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Title: Silverspur - or, The Mountain Heroine
Author: Willett, Edward
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Silverspur - or, The Mountain Heroine" ***

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Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_), and text
enclosed by equal signs is in bold (=bold=).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

Semi-Monthly Novels Series

No. 212.

BEADLE’S DIME NOVELS

[Illustration]

SILVERSPUR.

BEADLE AND COMPANY, 98 WILLIAM STREET NEW YORK.

New York News Co., 8 Spruce St., N. Y.

       *       *       *       *       *

HUNTED BY A HUMAN HOUND!

Beadle’s Dime Novels, No. 213,

TO ISSUE TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27,

Will be a grand, good story of the Santee morasses, viz.

SQUATTER DICK: OR, The Swamp Fox’s Oath.

BY JOS. E. BADGER, JR., AUTHOR OF “THE MASKED GUIDE,” “REDLAW, THE
HALF-BREED,” ETC.

Murder, rapine, outrage on person and property--these were concomitants
of the old War of Independence in the Carolinas, where the British
ruled with the sword, the hangman’s rope and the torch. Dwellings
blazed, citizens were hunted down or driven to the swamps, women were
insulted, lands laid desolate. Then it was that Marion became the Swamp
Fox and Sumter became the Wild Night Rider, whose terrible blows for
freedom made the haughty foe tremble. Their companions were true sons
of the soil, who, taking to the jungles, for nearly three years led
lives of hunted men.

The author, in this truly interesting novel, gives startlingly real
personations of the swamp men, and of one in particular--a _trailer_,
on a mission of vengeance which is fearfully wrought out.

It is a story to profoundly stir the feelings, to please, and to
inspire renewed interest in this “noble series of purely American
Romance” (as a leading New York Journal fitly characterizes
it)--BEADLE’S DIME NOVELS, the most widely-circulated books of modern
times.

☞ For sale by all Newsdealers and Booksellers; or sent, _post-paid_, to
any address, on receipt of price--TEN CENTS.

BEADLE AND COMPANY, Publishers, 98 William Street, New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *



SILVERSPUR; OR, THE MOUNTAIN HEROINE.


  A TALE OF THE ARAPAHO COUNTRY.

  BY EDWARD WILLETT,

  _Author of the following Dime Novels_:

  110. _THE HIDDEN HOME._
  114. _NED STARLING._
  119. _THE FIVE CHAMPIONS._
  125. _THE HUNTED LIFE._
  132. _OLD HONESTY._
  139. _THE BORDER FOES._
  145. _THE MOUNTAINEER._
  149. _THE HUNTER’S PLEDGE._
  159. _SNOW-BIRD._
  170. _BORDER AVENGERS._
  187. _THE OUTLAWS’ PLOT._
  205. _THE GRAY SCALP._

  NEW YORK:
  BEADLE AND COMPANY, PUBLISHERS,
  98 WILLIAM STREET.

       *       *       *       *       *

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by

BEADLE AND COMPANY,

In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

(No. 212.)

       *       *       *       *       *

SILVERSPUR.



CHAPTER I. MOUNTAIN MEN.


In a saloon adjoining the St. Louis theater (the city at that time
could boast of but one theater) were collected half a dozen men,
middle-aged and young. It was evident, even to a casual observer, that
they were bound together by ties of friendship, or of interest, or
of common pursuit; for they formed a knot by themselves, associating
with no others, and their appearance was quite different from that
of other frequenters of the saloon. Their dress was fine--not gaudy,
but costly--and they wore their broadcloth with the air of men who
had been born to it. Their manners were gentlemanly, if not refined,
characterized by the frankness and high-toned independence that
ought to distinguish the American citizen. Their tastes, also, were
of a costly and luxurious nature. Disdaining the low-priced whisky
and the fiery brandy that was chiefly dealt out at the saloon, they
lavished their gold pieces upon the choicest wines, as freely as if
they had owned mines of the precious metals. They were talking, when
they entered the saloon, of the theater which they had just left;
but their tone changed after a while, and the conversation was of
mountains and plains, of Indians and buffalo, of wild scenes and daring
exploits. They spoke of these subjects, so strange and wonderful to the
uninitiated, as if they were matters of every-day occurrence, laughing
and joking the most over the worst perils and the greatest hardships.

These men were objects of interest to a person who made his appearance
in the saloon shortly after they entered it--a man past the middle age,
grotesque, uncouth, and strangely out of place in those surroundings.

Although his features were peculiar enough, his dress was chiefly
calculated to attract attention in a civilized community. His
principal garment was a hunting-shirt of dressed deerskin, embroidered
in the Indian fashion, and ornamented with a fringe of green worsted. A
heavy cape was attached to this garment, and it was tied at the waist
with a red worsted sash. The breast was open sufficiently to give a
view of a red flannel shirt. Under the principal garment were leggings
of deerskin, heavily fringed below the knee, until they were joined by
a pair of moccasins. A cap made of the skin of the gray fox, with the
tail prominent behind, and a silver medal set in the front, completed
the attire of this strange personage.

His face and form were also peculiar. From under his cap fell
straggling locks of black hair, thickly touched with gray. Beneath
bushy eyebrows were set a pair of keen, sparkling and restless eyes.
His nose, large, prominent, and shaped like the beak of the eagle,
had been by some means turned awry, and its end pointed unmistakably
toward the left side of his face. His mouth was large, but pleasant in
expression, and his right cheek was remarkable for a purplish spot that
covered the region about the cheek-bone. None of his other features
were visible, being hidden by a heavy beard, of black mixed with gray,
that flowed in a tangled mass to his breast. As to shape, he was a
little above the medium hight, with very broad shoulders and breast and
thence tapering down to his feet, which were big and broad enough to
support the structure above them.

His left hand carried a long and heavy rifle, ancient and battered,
worn by time and hard service. A knife with a buckhorn handle was stuck
in a leather sheath in his sash, and his powder-horn and bullet-pouch
hung at his side.

After watching the group of well-dressed men for a while, he stepped up
to them.

“I heern tell that ye are mounting men, strangers,” he said, “though
I’m durned ef ye look a bit like it.”

“You are not far wrong, my friend,” replied a heavy set man, with a
jovial countenance; who seemed to be the chief personage in the group.
“We are generally called mountain men, though most of us belong to the
plains, rather than the mountains.”

“Ye’re all fixed up so mighty fine, that I had my doubts, and I felt
kinder skeery of ye; but I allowed I mought make bold to ax about
suthin’ I’m on the hunt of down hyar. Hope thar’s no harm done.”

“None to us, my friend. We are always glad to meet a mountain man in
the settlements. Won’t you take something to loosen your tongue?”

“Don’t mind ef I do, cap., bein’ it’s you.”

“Thunderation!” exclaimed the mountaineer, as the effervescent
champagne bubbled out into a goblet before him. “Hev ye got a b’ilin’
spring down hyar in St. Louis?”

“Drink it quick, my friend, before it dies.”

“Wal, ef I must eat it alive, hyar’s to ye!”

“Don’t you like it?” was asked, as he sat down the glass, with a wry
face.

“Cain’t say that I really love the taste of it. It’s most too sweetish
to suit this child, and I’m afeard the crittur is never gwine to quit
kickin’.”

“Peter, give the old man some brandy, or any thing he may choose
to call for. You said, my friend, that you wished to ask us about
something that you are on the hunt of. We will be glad to help you.”

“I allowed, bein’s ye’re mounting men, ye mought p’raps know suthin’ of
a young chap named Fred Wilder.”

A young man in the group gave a slight start, and laid his hand on the
shoulder of the gentleman who was about to reply.

“There are several men of that name in the city,” he said. “Did the
person you speak of ever pass by any other name?”

“The Injuns called him Silverspur, and he was ginerally called by that
name in the mountings; but I allow he wouldn’t wear it down hyar in the
settlements. Thar’s me, now; I’ve been called Old Blaze so long, and
nothin’ else, that I ain’t raally sure whether I’ve got any other name.”

“What sort of a man was he?”

“Wal, as fur looks, he was what is called a good-lookin’ man, though I
never took on much about his good looks, or thought they war any thin’
to brag on. He was about your hight, and with jist such eyes, and nose
and mouth the same to a dot. Durned ef you don’t look a heap like him.”

“Thank you for the compliment.”

“But looks don’t count in a skrimmage, and they ain’t worth talkin’
about. Thar’s whar Silverspur did count, and he was as good a man in a
tight place, fur his inches, as I ever sot eyes onto. Ye mought bet yer
pile that he’d never ran away from a fight, or go back on a friend. He
was the right kind of a man, and old Jule knows it.”

The hunter slapped his rifle with his hand, to give emphasis to this
assertion.

“Perhaps,” suggested one of the gentlemen, “this Wilder is the same man
who was hung last week, for horse-stealing.”

“Ye’re wrong thar, stranger,” said the hunter, as his eyes flashed
wickedly. “I won’t say but ye may hev sech a notion; but I hope ye
won’t speak it out ag’in afore me. Silverspur warn’t the kind of a man
to git picked up as a hoss-thief.”

“He is mistaken, my friend,” said the young man. “I knew Silverspur;
but he is dead.”

“Dead! That chap! Dead!”

The hunter’s rifle fell on the floor, with a crash that startled all in
the room, and his countenance was expressive of the deepest sorrow, as
he stared blankly at his informant.

“Ef Silverspur is dead, what’s other folks livin’ for? Seems that a man
like him hain’t no right to be took away. Thar’s few enough like him,
and old Jule knows it. Did he jest die, stranger, or mought suthin’ hev
happened to him?

“He was killed--shot in an encounter--here in St Louis.”

“Some sort of a skrimmage ye mean, I reckon. Is the man who did it
a-livin’?”

“There were several men. It was not known which of them fired the shot.”

“Will ye be so kind, stranger, as to put me on the trail of these men?”

“What would you do?”

“Foller it up, ontil the last one of ’em is wiped out. They’ll never
shoot another man. Such a chap as Silverspur!”

“Come, Fred,” remarked one of the party; “don’t carry the joke too far.”

“You take it too hard, my friend,” said the young man, as the hunter’s
eyes filled with tears. “I may have been mistaken. In fact, Silverspur
is alive and well. Why, Old Blaze! don’t you know me?”

The hunter looked amazed. He seemed hardly to know whether to be angry
or pleased; but gladness got the better of indignation, and his face
fairly blazed with joy as he grasped the outstretched hand of the young
man.

“The livin’ thunder!” he exclaimed. “Who would ever hev thought that ye
could fool this child so easy! It’s plain enough now, though shavin’
and ha’r-trimmin’ and settlement fixin’s do make a powerful differ.”

“You will forgive me for my joke, I know, if you are really glad to see
me.”

“Glad! That ain’t no word fur it boy. I’ve come all those many miles to
see ye, and I reckon I ort to be glad to find ye, at the eend of such a
long trail.”

“What is the news in the mountains?”

“Wal, things go on purty much in the old way; but thar’s suthin’ turned
up that I ’lowed ye’d want to know about.”

“What is it?”

“That Injun gal. Hev ye forgot her a’ready?”

“Dove-eye? No indeed! You may laugh if you please, gentlemen; but this
is a matter in which I am deeply interested.”

“An affair of the heart,” remarked one of the party. “I was spoony
about a red-skin girl myself, when I was younger than I am now. We will
leave you with Old Blaze, Fred. As he has come so far to see you, he
must have something of importance to communicate.”

The traders left the saloon, and Fred Wilder, leading the hunter to a
seat, asked him concerning the news that he had brought.

“It’s all about that Injun gal, I tell ye,” replied Old Blaze. “It was
White Shield who sent me--that Blackfoot friend of yours.”

“Where is White Shield, and how is he? I would be right glad to see
him.”

“Ye’ll never see him ag’in, in this world. That Injun’s dead.”

“You are not following my example, I hope, and trying to fool me.”

“Not a bit of it. The Blackfeet got him. They were powerful mad
because he quit the tribe and ran off with you and old Robinette’s gal,
and they were bound to kill him when they caught him. I happened to be
on good terms with the riptyles jest then, and I saw White Shield afore
he died. He told me about the Injun gal, and made me give him my solemn
promise that I would hunt you out and let you know.”

“How did they kill him?”

“Jest knocked him in the head, and left him to the buzzards.”

“Poor fellow! It would have been better for him if he had never seen
me. His friendship was fatal to him. What did he say about Dove-eye?”

“Yes, that is the gal’s name, ef it ain’t wrong to call a warrior a
gal. Thar’s precious little of the dove about her now, ’cordin’ to what
White Shield said. He was among the Crows, when they had a skrimmage
with the ’Rapahoes, and he said that Dove-eye was about the wildest
warrior the Crows had ag’inst them. Since she took to the war-paint, he
said, the ’Rapahoes seemed to hev abundance of bad feelin’ toward the
Crows, and fou’t ’em as ef they wanted to rub out the tribe.”

“I thought she was dead. I sought her so long, without finding even
a trace of her, that I could only suppose her to be dead. As she is
living, I must seek her again. I must go to the West. White Shield
never lied.”

“I reckon you will soon see her, cap., ef you will stay with the Crows
a while. It won’t be long afore you will hev a chance to knock her in
the head or take her prisoner, ef she don’t git ahead of you in the
fightin’ business.”

“Come to my lodge, Blaze, and stay with me while you are in town. In
two days I can get ready, and then we will start for the mountains, if
you are willing.”

“Willin’ and glad enough. I’m tired of this hyar settlement a’ready.”



CHAPTER II. A FOOT RACE.


Near the head of the Platte, more than a hundred miles beyond Fort
Laramie, had encamped, one midsummer night, a party of hunters and
trappers, among whom were Fred Wilder and Old Blaze.

The party numbered only a dozen men, and as their force was so small,
they had taken special care to guard against attack or accident.
Notwithstanding their precautions, they discovered, in the morning,
that four of their best horses were missing, and a council was held to
consider the matter.

As there were no signs of Indians to be seen, they came to the
conclusion that the animals had got loose, and had taken the back track
on the trail by which the party had come. As most of the men were in a
hurry to reach their destination, they proposed to push forward without
regarding the loss; but Wilder, to whom three of the horses belonged,
was loth to lose them, and he declared that he would go in search of
them, if he had to go alone. Old Blaze declared that he should not go
alone, and volunteered to accompany him. It was settled, therefore,
that the two men should go in search of the animals, and should join
the others at the Devil’s Gap, at which point they proposed to stop for
a while.

Silverspur and Old Blaze set out in one direction, while their
companions went in another. They followed the trail back to their last
encampment, where they saw signs of the missing animals, but discovered
that they had gone on without stopping. As it was useless to pursue
them any further on foot, the two men encamped for the night among the
trees that lined the banks of a creek.

In the morning they started to rejoin their comrades, and an accident
befell them at the outset of the journey. Silverspur shot a deer
before they proceeded far, and the animal fell to the ground, mortally
wounded. Old Blaze, drawing his knife, ran to finish the deer, but
stumbled and fell as he was running. As bad luck would have it, he
fell upon his knife, which entered his thigh, making a deep and painful
wound.

The gash was bound up immediately, and the hunter, after resting a
little while, was able to walk, though his progress was slow and
difficult.

Soon after this second start, Silverspur, happening to look around,
discovered a large body of Indians, less than a quarter of a mile in
their rear.

“What shall we do now?” he asked, as he pointed them out to his
companion.

“What you kin do is plain enough,” replied Blaze. “Yer legs are good,
and you kin git away. As fur me, I can’t run, and will hev to take my
chances.”

“Do you think I would leave you? You know me better than that, old man.
I think we can both save ourselves. The Indians have seen us, no doubt,
but have not found us out. They probably mistake us for some of their
own people, as they are in no hurry to get to us. If you will pull up a
little, until we get to the creek yonder, you can hide under the bank.
The Indians will follow me, and you can get clear when they have gone
by.”

“Are you right sure, boy, that your legs are good?” asked the hunter,
looking hard at his companion.

“I can trust them, and you need have no fear for me. The Indians are
afoot, as you see, and I am sure that no runner among them can catch me
before I reach the Devil’s Gap.”

“All right, then. Yer legs will hev to save yer own skelp and mine.”

“Come on. I belive they are getting suspicions of us.”

Old Blaze quickened his pace, and they soon reached the creek, where he
concealed himself in the dense foliage under the bank.

Silverspur crossed the creek, and gained an elevation beyond it, from
which he looked back at the Indians. They had become suspicious of the
strangers, and runners from the main body were hastening toward the
creek. As he started to run, the advanced Indians gave a yell, and
pushed forward in pursuit.

The young man had not reckoned without his host, when he said that he
could trust his legs. It was not their length that he confided in, but
their activity and endurance. More than once they had served him well
in grievous peril, and he had no doubt that they would carry him safely
to his friends.

He halted but once--to see that the Indians did not stop at the creek
to search for Old Blaze--before he had run a good two-mile stretch, and
had put a considerable distance between himself and his pursuers. After
that, he stopped whenever he found himself on a hill, to see whether
they were gaining on him, half hoping that they might abandon the race.
The hope was a vain one, as he well knew that Indian runners, when once
started on a chase, will fall dead in their tracks, rather than give up
the pursuit.

It was a long distance to the Devil’s Gap, and Fred Wilder had not got
his prairie legs on. He did not think of this when he proposed to draw
the pursuit from his friend. If he had thought of it, it would not have
prevented him from making the proposition. For a long time he had been
leading the enervating life of a city, and his bodily powers were by no
means such as they were when he left the mountains and the plains.

He was forced to confess to himself, when he stopped to look back, that
he paused to gain breath, as much as to observe the progress of his
pursuers. He was forced, also, to the unwelcome admission that they
were gaining on him, slowly but surely.

He was growing weary--of that there could be no doubt. The summer day
was hot; the sun shone scorchingly; there was no water on the route,
and his throat was parched with thirst. Still his persevering and
indefatigable pursuers gained on him, and their yells sounded horribly
in his ears.

But it was past noon. He had run more than five hours, and he consoled
himself with the thought that he must be near the rendezvous. He was
willing that the Indians should gain on him a little, as they would
soon be seen by his friends, and the tables would be turned on them so
nicely!

It was with a sigh of relief, with a feeling of great joy, that he came
within the shadow of the hills that marked the Gap. A few more steps,
and he would be safe.

The few steps were taken, and he reached the encampment, only to find
it deserted!

Silverspur was astounded by this appalling discovery. His head swam,
and his body reeled. At that moment he felt so weak that exertion
seemed impossible. His friends had gone up the river, and he could not
guess how far. They might be a full day’s journey in advance of him.
How could he hope to overtake them, and to escape his fleet-footed
pursuers.

In his despair, he thought only of satisfying his thirst. He was
determined to drink, if he should die the next moment. He staggered
down to the river, knelt at the brink, and drank as if he expected
never to have another draught.

When he arose, the Indians were fearfully near him; but his strength
and courage had returned. They had come upon the trail of the white
men, and, fearing an ambuscade, had halted to reconnoiter. But for this
circumstance, Silverspur would have been killed where he drank. As it
was, he was in great danger, and their bullets and arrows whistled
unpleasantly close to him as he mounted the bank. But he was rested
and refreshed, his nerves were braced for a grand effort, and the
consciousness of his peril gave him new energy and endurance.

He ran for his scalp, knowing that his possession of that precious part
of his person depended on his speed. The Indians raised a yell as he
shot ahead of them; but it was a feeble cry, compared to their previous
shouts, and showed that their throats were dry and thirsty. They must
stop to drink, and this thought gave him new hope. He resolved to
make a long burst, hoping to get so far ahead of them that they would
abandon the pursuit.

He was again mistaken. The savages stopped to quench their thirst;
but they were resolved to overtake the fugitive or die on the trail.
When he looked back, they were far in his rear, but were pressing
determinedly on.

The young man knew that he had a long and hard race before him; but he
believed that Providence would be propitious to a man that sacrificed
himself for his friend. His hope was even brighter than it had been
before he reached the rendezvous, and he felt that his will would
supply him with strength.

On he pressed, through the long hours of the midsummer afternoon,
with his red enemies straining after him. As he occasionally looked
behind, he had the satisfaction of seeing that their line was gradually
lengthened, and that one by one they dropped off, until but five
continued the pursuit. But those five were gaining on him, and he felt
that his strength was failing again.

Should he stop, and give battle to those five? He seriously considered
the question, as that desperate chance seemed to be his only resource.
No; the odds against him were too great, and he was so weak that he
could hardly “count” in a hand-to-hand struggle.

“Let them screech,” he said, as their exultant yells told him how
confident they were of overtaking him. “They had better save their
breath for running, or they may not catch me yet.”

He toiled on, and until the sinking sun showed him that the day was
near its close and until the number of his pursuers were diminished to
three. His strength was nearly exhausted, his feet were so sore that
every step was painful, and his legs had swollen until he seemed to
drag them as a load. Thirst had overpowered him again; his throat was
dry and hot; his breath came in difficult gasps; his head was dizzy and
a mist floated before his eyes.

He could run no more. The end of the race had come and the only
question was, how it should be ended. There were but three Indians
now, and his rifle, which he had carried through the weary chase until
its weight was no longer supportable, would do good work if his eye
remained true. He might bring down one of his adversaries, and might
load in time to shoot another, before they could close in upon him, and
then he would have but one to deal with. It was his last chance, and he
could do nothing but adopt it.

As he looked ahead, to find a suitable place to make a stand, he saw
smoke rising from an elevation before him. The next moment he saw men
on horseback. He pressed his hand before his eyes, as if to drive away
the mist that blinded him, and he saw that they were white men.

They had perceived him, and they came galloping toward him. They were
seen by the Indians, who turned and fled. The pursuers became the
pursued, and small chance would they have in another race.

Silverspur saw nothing more. The mist closed in upon him thickly. His
rifle fell upon the ground, and he dropped heavily beside it.



CHAPTER III. THE GIRL WARRIOR.


Fred Wilder came to his senses as his friends were carrying him to
their camp. They had gone on for the purpose of meeting a band of
friendly Crows, supposing that Old Blaze and Silverspur would recover
their horses, and would have no difficulty in overtaking them. When
Silverspur told them of his adventure, and described his terrible
race, he received plenty of sympathy, and praise from the open-hearted
mountain men, who could well appreciate the motive that prompted him to
incur such danger to save his friend.

“That was a purty smart run fur a chap from the settlements,” said
one of the party; “but it warn’t a very big thing. I’ve knowed Indian
runners to make more than a hundred miles in a day.”

It was a big enough thing to suit Silverspur, and his swelled legs
were somewhat too big to please him. He was in such pain that he was
hardly able to stir for several days. Fortunately for him he was not
obliged to move. His companions had encamped with a band of Crows, and
expected to remain a week or longer in that locality.

The men who had gone in pursuit of Silverspur’s pursuers brought in
three scalps, and declared that the runners were Arapahoes. Bad Eye,
the chief of the Crows, said that they might expect an attack, as the
Arapahoes were probably awaiting an opportunity to pounce upon his
people, toward whom they had lately manifested the most inveterate
hostility.

The third day after Silverspur’s arrival, Old Blaze came limping into
the camp, and was overjoyed at finding his friend alive. The Indians
had passed within a few feet of him without observing him. When they
had gone by he crawled out of his hiding-place, and followed the trail
as rapidly as he could, being compelled to seek concealment every now
and then, to avoid straggling parties of Indians.

He brought the intelligence that the Arapahoes were a war-party, that
they were in strong force, and that they were undoubtedly intending
to commit depredations upon the Crows. As this coincided with the
opinion of Bad Eye, the camp was removed to a bend in the river, and
the Indians, with their white allies, began to fortify the position. A
slight breastwork was thrown up across the bend, and the horses were
driven back into the semicircle, as the rear of the camp was rendered
impregnable by the river.

The next morning the Arapahoes came in sight, and the camp was fairly
invested. The Crows and the white men, perceiving that they were
largely outnumbered, made every preparation for defense.

The Arapahoes seemed inspired by a desperate resolution to exterminate
the band of Crows. They made charge after charge upon the breastwork,
with the greatest fury, and on two occasions nearly gained possession
of it. The white men persuaded their Indian allies to act altogether
upon the defensive, to content themselves with repulsing the attacks
of their assailants, and to labor as much as possible to strengthen
their position. By this means, they argued, the Arapahoes would tire
themselves out, and, when they should become wearied, they might be
charged and put to flight.

Night put a stop to the struggle, and the Crows hoped that their
inveterate enemies would retire from the contest; but in this they were
mistaken. In the morning the assault was vigorously renewed, and it was
only by the most determined fighting that the Crows could hold their
ground. If it had not been for the assistance of the white men, they
must have been driven into the river, and nearly all of them would have
perished.

By noon the attack had slackened considerably. It became evident that
the ranks of the Arapahoes had been thinned by the close fire of their
antagonists, and that they had become fatigued by the incessant labor
of battle. The time had come for the besieged to assume the offensive,
and they prepared to attack in their turn. Old Blaze gave directions
for horses to be made ready for fifty men, with whom he proposed to
make a détour through the timber, and fall upon the rear of the enemy,
while the others should charge in front.

Foremost among the Arapahoes, urging them on in every attack, and
fearlessly leading the charge up to the very muzzles of their guns at
the breastwork, was a person who attracted attention from the beginning
of the engagement, and who was soon recognized as a woman. The Crow
chief said that she was the same woman who had been conspicuous in
several attacks upon the Crows, and Old Blaze, believing her to be the
person of whom White Shield had spoken, told Silverspur that Dove-eye
was among the combatants.

Fred Wilder was so weak and sore after his hard race, that he was
unable to take part in the battle; but, when he learned that Dove-eye
was in the ranks of the Arapahoes, he could not restrain his impatience
to see her.

Without speaking of his intention to Old Blaze, who would not have
allowed him to move, he crawled out of the lodge in which he had been
lying, saddled a horse, mounted, and rode forward to the breastwork,
where the Crows were preparing to charge upon their adversaries.

The charge was made before he reached the forest. The Arapahoes
discovered, as they began to fall from their horses, that they were
attacked in the rear, and were thrown into confusion. The Crows and
their white allies took advantage of this moment to sally out and fall
upon their foes. As they were comparatively fresh, both men and horses,
while the Arapahoes were wearied by their repeated assaults, the
movement was a complete success.

Silverspur, hardly able to sit on his horse, soon perceived that it
would be useless for him to attempt to overtake the charging party, and
he took his station upon an eminence, from which he could have a good
view of the surrounding country.

He saw that the Arapahoes were already broken, and were flying in all
directions, hotly pursued by their vindictive antagonists. He looked in
every quarter for Dove-eye; but his head was so dizzy, and his eyes
were so dim, that he was unable to see far, and he was about to move
away, when a warrior came galloping up the slope toward him. As the
warrior approached, he perceived that it was a woman. A moment more,
and he recognized Dove-eye.

She was beautiful indeed. Silverspur thought that he had never seen any
wild thing that was half so lovely, and it did not detract from her
beauty and grace that she was riding man-fashion, as a warrior must.
She was richly attired in the Indian style; her head was crowned with
a plume of painted feathers, and her saddle was a panther’s skin. She
rode a splendid coal-black horse, and carried a battle-ax in her right
hand. Her hair, unlike the coarse and straight locks of the rest of her
tribe, was wavy and inclined to curl; her complexion was a rich olive,
instead of copper-color, and she had not the high cheek-bones peculiar
to the Indian race. With her cheeks guiltless of paint, glowing with
excitement, and her eyes flashing fire, she was beautiful indeed.

Silverspur urged his horse toward her as she rode up the slope, and
called her by name; but she whirled her battle-ax in the air, and
launched it full at his head. As he dodged to avoid the missile his
small remnant of strength deserted him, and he fell from his horse to
the ground. When he recovered himself, the warrior was out of hearing.

Picking up the battle-ax, he slowly walked back up to camp, whither his
horse had preceded him.

The Crows came in loaded with scalps and full of joy. Although they had
lost a number of warriors, they had a grand scalp-dance, in which the
women participated most heartily. Silverspur and Old Blaze did not join
the dance, but conversed of Dove-eye and of her part in the battle.

“She fit like a tiger,” said the trapper. “It’s my opeenyun that she’s
got a partic’lar spite ag’inst the Crows, judgin’ by the way she
pitched into ’em.”

“It is sad to think that she should have taken up the battle-ax and
become so bloodthirsty.”

“Rayther sad fur the Crows, shore enough. Her lettin’ go the battle-ax
would hev been sadder fur you, ef ye hadn’t dodged the weapon. Are you
sartin it is the same gal?”

“I have not a doubt of it. I saw her plainly, and I could not be
mistaken. Those flashing eyes, that rich olive complexion, that queenly
carriage, could not be forgotten. There was no change in her, except
that she seemed more beautiful than ever.”

“Yaas, I reckon. Handsome is as handsome does, ’cordin’ to my notion,
and it don’t look over and above handsome to see a gal trottin’ out on
the war-path and flingin’ bloody battle-axes about. ’Pears like she
didn’t know ye.”

“I suppose she did not,” replied Wilder, as his countenance fell.

“A knock-down blow with that battle-ax of her’n wouldn’t be what ye
might call a love-tap, and it warn’t no common way of lettin’ ye know
that she hadn’t forgot ye. But ye oughtn’t to be down-hearted, boy.
Remember how ye fooled Old Blaze down to St. Louey. Tell ye, thar’s a
powerful differ atween a chap with long ha’r and beard, and his face
brown and his leggin’s on, and the same chap when he is short-sheared
and class-shaved, and has got the look of the settlements onto him. The
gal was just from the fight, too, whar every white man was an inimy. Ye
may count it sartin that she didn’t know ye.”

“I believe you are right. I must find her, old friend.”

“I allowed ye’d found her to-day. Leastways, ye found her battle-ax.”

“I must see her and speak to her. If it is necessary to go among the
Arapahoes to find her, I must seek her there. Will you help me, or is
it too much to ask?”

“Ye kin bet yer life that Old Blaze will stand by ye.”



CHAPTER IV. THE PROPHET’S CHILD


A wild place among the hills, on the eastern slope of the Rocky
Mountains. At the base of a cliff is a rude hut, forming the entrance
to a cave in the rock. A plateau before the cliff commands a view
of broken hills and ravines, becoming less rugged as they descend
and finally melting into the wide expanse of prairie that stretches
endlessly toward the east.

Among these hills and ravines a fearful scene is being acted. A party
of Arapaho Indians have been surprised by a band of Crows, who have
attacked them with such vigor that they are flying in all directions,
pursued by their bloodthirsty and vindictive adversaries. The air
resounds with shouts and yells, with screams and shrieks; blood is
scattered plentifully upon the hills, and the ravines are filled with
horror.

From the plateau in front of the hut two persons are gazing at the
terrible sight below them. One is an old Indian with bent form and
white hair. A blanket is wrapped around him, and his countenance
expresses the deepest distress. The other is a girl of the same tribe,
tall and graceful, much lighter in color than the Arapahoes, with
long and wavy hair, and with beautiful features. She stands as if
spell-bound, and watches the carnage with eyes full of fear and anxiety.

“Come, my child,” said the old man. “Our enemies are victorious, and we
must fly.”

“Is it really you, my father?” she asked, turning upon him with a look
of wonder. “I thought you had gone to the spirit-land.”

“I had; but my people were in danger, and I returned.”

“Can you do nothing to help them? Many of them have been killed, and
the rest are flying in all directions. What Indians are those who are
pursuing them?”

“They are Crows. See, Dove-eye; they are coming up the hill toward
us. We shall be killed if we remain here. Come; we must seek a
hiding-place.”

Seizing the girl by the hand, he hurried her along the plateau, to a
rift that led up into the mountain. This they ascended with difficulty,
until they reached another level space, covered with clumps of pine and
cedar.

“Remain here, my child,” said the old man as he led her into the cover
of the trees. “I must go and see what becomes of our people, and what
the Crows are doing. Do not stir until I return.”

He was absent fully half an hour, during which time Dove-eye was
filled with anxiety. Her friends the Arapahoes were being slaughtered
by their merciless foes, and she could still hear from her elevated
position the yells and shrieks of the victors and the vanquished. But
this was not all. There was a white man below whom she had saved from
death at the hands of the Arapahoes, and toward whom her feelings were
such as had never before been excited in her breast. She had concealed
him in a hole in the cliff and he was lying there, wounded and
helpless, an easy prey to any foe who should discover his hiding-place.

When the old man returned, he was greatly excited, and was trembling
from fear and exhaustion.

“Come, my child,” he said. “We are not safe here. We must seek another
hiding-place. We must go up further into the mountains.”

“Sit down and rest yourself,” replied Dove-eye. “We can not be seen
here. You are so tired that you can hardly stand.”

“There is no time for rest. The Crows are everywhere in the hills,
searching for our friends who have escaped them. If they see our trail,
we will soon be discovered.”

“Where is the white man? Where is Silverspur? I am afraid that they may
find him and kill him.”

“They have already found him, and he is dead.”

“Dead! Are you sure, my father?”

“I saw him dragged out and struck down with a tomahawk.”

“Were they Crows who killed him, or Arapahoes?”

“They were Crows.”

The girl was a picture of despair. She sat still, as if she had been
turned into stone, gazing into vacancy. Then her cheeks flushed, and a
wild and fierce light blazed in her dark eyes. The fires of hatred and
vengeance had been kindled in her breast.

“I must see him, my father,” she said, quietly. “Perhaps he is only
wounded.”

“Do you think the Crows would leave him alive? I tell you he is dead.”

“I must see him.”

“The Crows would kill you, also.”

“I am not afraid of the Crows. If he is dead, they will let me bury
him.”

“Has the mind of Dove-eye been taken from her? If the Crows should not
kill you, they would carry you away, and I would never see you again.
You promised me, Dove-eye, if I would save the life of the white man,
that you would never leave me while I lived.”

“It is true, my father; but he is dead.”

“I saved his life, as I promised to do. He was not killed by the
Arapahoes, but by the Crows.”

“The word of Dove-eye is sacred. I will go with you.”

The old man and the girl sought and found a refuge further up the
mountain from the search of the pursuing Crows. They came down, in
a nearly famished condition, when the scattered Arapahoes returned;
but they did not remain long in that locality, as the remnant of the
band to which they were attached removed toward the south. After the
expiration of several months they came back to the scene of their
disastrous defeat, and Dove-eye and the old man again occupied the
lodge at the foot of the cliff.

The girl passed her time in mourning the loss of the white man who had
become so dear to her. This occupation caused her to grow thin and
pale, and might have caused her death, if she had not been diverted
from it by another trouble. The old man, who had never recovered from
the effects of his fright and exhaustion at the time of the attack of
the Crows, sickened and died.

Dove-eye, who had known him as a great medicine man, whose influence
in his tribe was almost unbounded, was puzzled as well as grieved,
when she saw him lying there, pale and cold, with glassy eyes, hollow
cheeks and dropped under-jaw, to all appearance a corpse.

He had been subject to trances--had been in the habit of falling into
a sleep which, whether real or counterfeit, closely resembled death.
He knew when these spells were coming on, and it had been his custom
to notify the tribe that on such an occasion, at a certain hour in the
morning, he would go to the spirit-land, and that he would return at
noon. The warriors would solemnly come to visit him and look upon him
as he lay in this trance, satisfying themselves that he was really
dead. After noon they would again come, when they would find him alive,
and would listen to the messages which he had brought from the other
world. By this mysterious power the old man maintained his ascendancy
over the tribe. His word was law, and his advice was always heeded.

It was possible, Dove-eye thought, that he might then be on one of
his journeys to the spirit-world. He had sent no announcement of his
intentions to the tribe; but he might have forgotten to do so. She said
nothing, but waited to see whether he would rise at his usual hour.
Noon came, and he remained motionless and cold. The evening passed, and
night came on, without bringing any change. The next morning there was
no alteration in him, except for the worse, and Dove-eye was convinced
that he was dead.

She then felt that she had sustained a great loss, and thought
seriously about her future. If the old man had not adopted her, and
retained her as his companion, she would have been compelled to share
the lodge of some warrior, with one or two other squaws. Now that her
protector was gone she would be sought by many, and would be unable to
resist their importunities.

In her desperation she hit upon an expedient, which, if it should prove
successful, would enable her to retain her independence, and would
gratify the vengeance that had so long slumbered in her heart.

A negro slave of the tribe named Jose, who had been captured in Texas
or Mexico, had long been the servant of the medicine-man, and was
devoted to Dove-eye. With his assistance she buried the body of the
old man, swearing him to secrecy concerning the burial.

She then went to the village, and called together the old men, whom she
informed that their Big Medicine had gone to the spirit-land, and that
he would return when six moons had passed.

This announcement filled them with surprise and sorrow; but their
credulity was not shaken. Dove-eye had often brought them messages from
the old man, and they were prepared to believe whatever she might say.

She went on to tell them that the Great Spirit was angry with them
because they had not punished the Crows for their unprovoked attack,
by which so many Arapahoes had been slain. The old man had advised
them to go on the war-path against the Crows, and to continue fighting
them until ample vengeance should be taken for that massacre. He had
also commanded her to assume the garb and weapons of a warrior, and to
accompany all expeditions that should be sent against the Crows.

Dove-eye waited with great anxiety to learn what would be the effect
of her communication. It was received in silence, and she was ordered
to retire until the old men should have deliberated over it. After
the lapse of an hour she was admitted to the council-lodge, and
Black Horse, the head chief, acquainted her with the result of the
deliberation.

“It is well,” he said. “The Big Medicine has left us, to be gone a
long time, and our hearts are sad. Never before, when he has gone to
the spirit-land, has he remained so long away from his people. But we
are not lost without him; for he has sent us a message, and has left
us advice. His words have always been good words, and Dove-eye has
never lied to us. We will go upon the war-path against the Crows, and
Dove-eye shall be among the warriors. The young men must not look upon
her.”

The season of mourning followed, for the old medicine-man, who was
believed to be dead for the space of six moons, and then the whole
strength of the tribe was employed in expeditions against the Crows.
Dove-eye, arrayed and armed as a brave, was an honored member of every
war-party, and acted her part with such skill and bravery as to command
the approval of the whole tribe. When the braves rehearsed their
exploits, she was always allowed to tell her own, and her achievements
did not fall far behind those of the most renowned warriors. With
every blow she struck, she believed that she was avenging the death of
Silverspur.



CHAPTER V. THE SNAKE.


It had been the hope and expectation of Dove-eye that she would be
killed in battle, or that something would occur to release her from
her obligations, before the time appointed for the return of the old
medicine-man. But the six months passed away, and found her still
living and the Indians joyfully expectant of a visit from their beloved
prophet.

Thus far her plan had succeeded admirably; but, if her imposition
should be discovered, she knew that a fearful death awaited her.
Providence had not interfered in her behalf, and she saw no way to
avert the calamity.

Not knowing what to do, Dove-eye did nothing. She did not fully realize
the necessity of coming to some decision in the matter, until she was
summoned to the presence of the head chief.

“Has the tongue of Dove-eye become crooked?” inquired Black Horse. “Did
the pale-face girl who was in her lodge last summer teach her to tell
lies? Has the Big Medicine gone to the spirit-land, never to return, or
shall we see him again?”

“How shall I know more than the chief knows?”

“Dove-eye told us that he would return after six moons; but six moons
have passed, and we have not seen him.”

“Have six moons passed?” asked the girl, with a look of surprise. “Is
the chief sure of this?”

“I am sure. My people are tired of waiting for him. We have done as
he told us to do. We have fought the Crows, and have gained many
victories. We have taken a great revenge for the cruel attack they
made upon us. But we are weary of war, and we have lost many young men.
We wish to rest, to rebuild our lodges, and to gather skins to sell to
the traders. Why does not the Big Medicine return to us?”

“Perhaps,” suggested Dove-eye, at a loss for an excuse, “they do not
count time in the spirit-land as we count it here. Perhaps The Big
Medicine has returned. It is several suns since I have visited the
lodge at the cliff. If the chief will permit me, I will go there now,
and will watch for the Big Medicine, if he is not already there. As he
promised to return, he will surely do so.”

The consent of the chief was given, and Dove-eye, dressing herself in
woman’s attire, took up her residence in the lodge at the foot of the
cliff. This was for the purpose of gaining time, in order that she
might reflect upon the matter, and determine what course she had best
pursue.

At the end of four days she came to the village, and informed Black
Horse that she had a message for him. The old men were convened in the
council-lodge, where she was brought before them, and was ordered to
declare her errand.

She said that she had seen the Big Medicine, who had been well received
in the spirit-land, and who had met there many of the warriors who had
been slain in recent encounters. She mentioned the names of those whom
he had met and described their pursuits in the happy hunting-grounds,
and the honors that were bestowed upon them. This part of her subject
she treated with consummate tact, knowing how to adopt the style of the
old man, and how to flatter the vanity of her auditors. She succeeded
so well, that the Arapahoes were highly pleased, and considered
themselves favored above all other men, in receiving such consoling
messages from the other world.

She went on to say that the Great Spirit was highly pleased with the
punishment which they had inflicted upon the Crows; but the warriors
who had been killed in battle still demanded vengeance. The Big
Medicine advised them to persist in their enmity to the Crows, and to
strike them whenever an opportunity offered, although they need not
entirely abandon the pursuits of peace for the purpose of engaging in
war.

At this there were visible signs of disapproval among the old men; but
Dove-eye, nothing daunted, went on to declare the last and the worst of
her errand.

The Big Medicine, she said, had been suffered to leave the spirit-land
but for a short time, and had not been permitted to visit his people;
but he would return to them after the lapse of six more moons, and
would never again leave them, until he should be finally taken away. He
exhorted them to give themselves no uneasiness concerning him, as his
absence was for their good, and he was continually watching over them
and guiding them. It was his last request that Dove-eye should again be
allowed to assume the garb and weapons of a warrior.

The old men received this portion of the message in the most profound
silence; but Dove-eye could not fail to see that their displeasure was
great. For this she cared little, as she had taken the risk, and was
not afraid of their frowns. If her secret should be discovered, she
knew that death was certain, and her only chance was to continue the
imposture.

No direct action was taken upon Dove-eye’s second communication; but
the message was tacitly heeded. The warfare against the Crows was
kept up in a desultory manner, and the presence of the girl, when she
joined the war-parties, was not objected to. Still, she saw that there
were those who looked upon her with suspicion, and she hoped that an
honorable death in battle might put an end to her troubles, and absolve
her from all liability.

There was a white trader residing among the Arapahoes at this time,
named Silas Wormley, a cunning, foxy man, shrewd enough at driving a
small bargain, but incapable of any enterprise that demanded enlarged
ideas. He had gained the favor of the tribe by procuring supplies
for them when they were short of peltries to give in exchange. This
accommodation had greatly pleased them, as they had not troubled
themselves to think of the exorbitant prices which they were to pay in
the future.

Silas Wormley had come among the Arapahoes shortly after Dove-eye had
joined the warriors. The warfare in which they were engaged was very
distasteful to him, as it interfered seriously with his anticipated
profits. While the Indians were fighting, death was depriving him of
the opportunity of collecting some of his debts, and those who lived
were not engaged in such pursuits as would enable them to pay what they
owed.

When he heard the story of the visits of the Big Medicine to the
spirit-land, he laughed inwardly at the credulity of the Indians,
although he knew better than to offend them by ridiculing their pet
belief. The second communication of Dove-eye made him highly indignant.
He knew that she was an impostor, but could not guess whether she was
aided in her imposture by the old medicine-man, who might still be
living and deceiving the Indians for some purpose of his own. However
that might be, Dove-eye was an impostor, and ought to be exposed and
punished.

But Silas Wormley had no thought of exposing and punishing her. A
better, or worse, feeling had been stirred up in his breast, and he
had become, after his fashion, violently enamored of Dove-eye. He was
determined to possess her, by some means and in some manner. He had
asked her of Black Horse for a wife, but had been informed that she
was a warrior, by command of the Big Medicine, and as such could not
be given in marriage. He had, also, been well laughed at by the young
braves who had in vain endeavored to induce Dove-eye to enter their
lodges.

When Dove-eye, by her second revelation from the spirit-land, had
extended her privilege as a warrior, Wormley was decidedly of the
opinion that she was going entirely too far, and that a stop should be
put to the imposture. Knowing that she must have been imposing upon the
Indians, he thought that it would not be difficult for him to obtain
proof of the fact. Then he could threaten her with exposure, and thus
compel her to accede to his wishes.

With this view he waylaid her, for the purpose of speaking privately
with her, and met her as she was walking alone in the forest.

It may as well be mentioned here, that the Arapahoes, recognizing the
craft and duplicity of Wormley, had named him the Snake. It was really,
in their estimation, a title of honor, and the trader did not care by
what name he was called, as long as it did not interfere with his plans
of profit.

“How long,” he asked, after a little preliminary conversation, “does
Dove-eye suppose that she can deceive her people?”

The girl, who had been meditating upon her imposture, was startled
by this abrupt inquiry, and turned upon him with a look of surprise,
mingled with alarm.

“The words of the Snake are strange words,” she said, recovering her
composure. “What does he mean?”

“You know well enough what I mean. You know that you have been
deceiving the Arapahoes for a long time, by representing to them that
the Big Medicine has gone to the spirit-land. These Indians don’t know
any better than to believe such nonsense; but I have known, all the
time, that you have been deceiving them.”

“The tongue of the Snake is forked. He speaks falsely when he says that
the Big Medicine has not gone to the spirit-land. Dove-eye has spoken
the truth.”

“Tush, girl! You need not think that you can carry it off with me in
that way. Don’t I know that he is alive, and that you have concealed
him from the tribe?”

“How can you know that which is not true?” replied Dove-eye, with a
look of triumph. “I swear before the Great Spirit, that I have not
concealed the Big Medicine.”

“I was only joking with you,” said Wormley, perceiving that he had made
a mistake, and had got on the “wrong tack.” “I wished to convince you
that I know what you really have done. It is true that the Big Medicine
has gone to the spirit-land; but it is also true that he will never
return. He is dead, and you have buried him.”

This was a home thrust, and it brought the blood to the cheeks of the
troubled girl.

“He is dead,” continued the trader, “and you are deceiving the people
to serve your own purpose, because you are not willing to marry; but
you can’t fool me. You want to get the same influence over the tribe
that the old man had; but I know that his trips to the spirit-land were
nothing but nonsense, and that the messages which you pretend to bring
from him have not a word of truth in them.”

“You had better tell the warriors,” suggested Dove-eye, “that the Big
Medicine is a liar, and that he has always deceived them.”

“You can’t scare me in that way, girl. Of course I am not fool enough
to tell the Arapahoes that I don’t believe that nonsense; but I mean
to let you know that you are found out. The old men suspect that you
have been cheating them. What do you suppose they would do to you, if I
should tell them the truth of the matter?”

“If you should tell them lies, they would take your scalp.”

“But you know that it would not be a lie, and you would be cut in
pieces. I tell you, Dove-eye, that your life is in my hands. If I
expose you, you will surely be killed. If I do not expose you, you must
be found out before long. I can save you. I can arrange matters so that
this deception will never be discovered. I only ask you to be my wife,
and all will be well.”

Instead of answering him, Dove-eye gave him a scornful glance, and
turned away and left him.



CHAPTER VI. CONFESSION UNDER TORTURE.


Silas Wormley was pretty sure of the ground he trod on, but was not
absolutely certain. Although the manner of Dove-eye had convinced him
that he had guessed the truth, or very near it, he felt that he was
not able to prove his assertions. If he should charge her with the
deception, before the old men of the Arapahoes, he knew that their
own suspicions would not be strong enough to confirm his accusations.
They would require plain and undeniable proof to convince them of the
falsity of that which they had so long held as a religious belief. If
he should fail in furnishing such proof, he would lose the profits of
his trading, if not his scalp.

He determined, therefore, to make his suspicion a certainty, and he was
not long in forming a plan to accomplish that end.

He knew that Jose, the negro, had long been the servant and constant
companion of the old medicine-man, and that he was devoted to
Dove-eye. It was not to be supposed that the old man could have died
without the knowledge of Jose, and it was probable that he had assisted
Dove-eye in disposing of the body. Wormley had seen enough of the negro
to know that he could not be bribed from his duty to Dove-eye, and that
the secret, if he really knew it, must be forced from him.

To accomplish this, a confederate was necessary, and the trader cast
about for a suitable person.

There was an Indian among the Arapahoes, supposed to be a Pawnee Loup
by birth, who never joined a war party, and who had no belongings of
any kind, not even a gun or a squaw or a lodge. This individual, who
was known by the name of Bull-tail, was an ill-conditioned vagabond,
the butt of the village, and the general recipient of all scattering
kicks and cuffs.

The trader bribed Bull-tail, by the promise of some rum, to assist him
in his undertaking, and the two came upon Jose and seized him, one
morning when he was away from his lodge.

“I have got an account to settle with you, boy,” said the trader. “I
am going to ask you a question, and you had better tell the truth, or
I will squeeze it out of you the hard way. Where did you and Dove-eye
bury the Big Medicine?”

The countenance of the negro, at this unexpected question, convinced
Wormley that he had hit the mark, and he proceeded to press his
advantage.

“You needn’t try to lie out of it,” he said, “or to get out of it in
any way; for I know pretty near all about the matter. Dove-eye has
admitted to me that the old man died, and that you helped her bury him,
and I only want you to show me where the grave is.”

The name of Dove-eye brought the negro to his senses. He perceived
that, whatever she might have admitted, she had not revealed the place
of burial of the old man, and he was determined to disclose nothing
that she had not been willing to make known. He stoutly denied all
knowledge of the grave, or of the death of the old man, or of any thing
connected with his disappearance.

“Very well,” said the trader. “I know that you are lying, and I have
advised you to tell the truth. If you don’t tell it, I must squeeze it
out of you.”

As the negro persisted in refusing to make any disclosures, he was
gagged, stripped, and tied to a tree. The trader cut hickory rods,
which he plied upon the back of the poor fellow until he was tired of
the exercise, and then turned over the task to Bull-tail, who, having
received several flagellations, thought it a great privilege to be
permitted to whip somebody.

Jose kicked and writhed and groaned in his agony; but, when the gag was
removed from his mouth, he refused to utter a word.

“I’ll have it out of you yet!” exclaimed Wormley, with an oath. “In the
settlements, when we get hold of a tough customer, and he won’t let the
truth come out of him, we choke it out, and that’s the way I will serve
you, you black rascal!”

He had brought a rope, which he knotted in the most approved style,
and placed around Jose’s neck, throwing the loose end over the limb of
a tree. After exhorting the negro to confess, Wormley and the Indian
hauled him up until his feet were off the ground, but soon lowered him.

“You see what it is, boy,” said the trader. “You had better make up
your mind to show us that grave, or you will get a choking ten times
worse than this.”

As the negro persisted in his denial, notwithstanding this rough
treatment, Wormley ran him up again, and angrily took a turn with the
rope around a sapling.

The agony of Jose was fearful, and was increased by his struggles. His
eyes rolled back in his head, his tongue protruded from his mouth, and
then he was quiet.

Fearing that he had been killed, the trader let him down. He was
senseless when the rope was removed from his neck; but a liberal
application of cold water brought him to after a while, and he sat up
and stared helplessly about.

“Have I been dead?” he asked.

“Mighty near it, boy,” replied Wormley. “If you ain’t willing, now, to
show us where you and Dove-eye buried the Big Medicine, you will go up
again, and then you will never come down.”

Jose’s pluck and determination had oozed out of him, under the last
trial, and he signified his willingness to show them the place, if they
would allow him to rest a few minutes and regain his strength.

This request was granted, and he led them to the ravine in which the
old man was buried. Wormley sharpened a stick, and dug up the ground,
making the Indian and the negro throw out the earth with their hands,
until the body was partially uncovered. In spite of decomposition,
Bull-tail recognized the features of the Big Medicine, as well as his
long white hair and beard and the peculiar robe that he had always worn.

Having satisfied himself, the trader replaced the earth, and permitted
Jose to depart, after warning him not to mention to Dove-eye the
treatment he had received, or the disclosure he had made.

Jose heeded the warning until he was out of sight of Wormley, when he
hastened to find Dove-eye, and tell her all that happened.

She was greatly troubled. Discovery seemed imminent, if not
unavoidable, and a terrible death stared her in the face. The negro was
very indignant at learning that Wormley had lied to him concerning the
admissions which she was said to have made, and he forgot his own pain
at the sight of the anxiety of his young mistress.

Accusing himself of having brought this trouble upon her, he resolved
to endeavor to extricate her from her embarrassment and at the same
time to make Wormley repent of the base part he was playing. At first
he wished to kill the trader; but Dove-eye said his death would avail
nothing, as long as Bull-tail was also possessed of the secret. He then
suggested flight; but Dove-eye declared that she might as well die
there, as to starve in the mountains, or to be captured by some other
tribe.

At last he hit upon an idea that pleased him amazingly, and he burst
into a laugh as it came into his mind. Bidding his mistress set her
mind at rest, he hastened to carry out his plan.

Removing the earth from the grave in the ravine, he carried away the
remains of the old medicine-man, and buried them in another spot. He
then took up the body of an Indian who had been buried so long that
his features could not be recognized, and laid it in the grave, filling
in the earth so that it looked exactly as Wormley had left it.

Having finished his task, he hastened to Dove-eye, and told her what he
had done.

Dove-eye was overjoyed. She praised the negro highly for the ready wit
and invention by which he had extricated her from this pressing peril,
and declared that the Snake might do his worst, as she was not afraid
of him, and was able to turn the tables upon him whenever he should
seek to harm her.

The trader, satisfied that he had Dove-eye in his power, lost no time
in pressing his advantage. Cautioning Bull-tail to say nothing about
the discovery that had been made, he sought an opportunity of speaking
to Dove-eye privately. She did not avoid him, as she was by no means
unwilling to have the affair brought “to a head.”

“Dove-eye will listen to me now,” he said. “She must listen to me,
unless she is willing to die. I knew that I was right when I told her
that she was deceiving her people; but I was not then able to prove my
words. Now I have the proof, and Dove-eye is in my power. She must do
as I wish her to do, or I will denounce her to the old men.”

“What will you do?” calmly asked Dove-eye. “You had better not tell the
warriors that the Big Medicine has lied to them.”

“I will tell them that you have deceived them. I will tell them that
the Big Medicine will never return from the spirit-land, that he is
dead and in his grave.”

“It is easy for the Snake to tell lies.”

“I can prove that I speak the truth. I will take them to his grave, and
will show them his body.”

“It will be hard even for the Snake to show that which is not to be
found.”

“But I have seen it. You thought your secret was safe with you and
Jose; but he has confessed, and has shown me where you buried the old
man.”

“You may be able to make Jose say many things; but he could not show
you that which he has never seen himself.”

“I have seen the body of the Big Medicine, and I can take the old men
to his grave, where they can see it themselves. I wish to save you,
Dove-eye. I wish you to live and to be my wife. If you will marry me,
you will be safe; if not, I will tell the tribe of what you have done.”

“If all you say were true, I had rather die than become your wife; but
I am not afraid of your lies.”

With this reply the girl turned away and left him.

Boiling with indignation at the contempt with which he was treated,
the trader hastened to the village, and went at once to the lodge of
Black Horse, whom he requested to call together the old men as he had a
matter of the greatest importance to communicate.

The chief summoned the council, the door of the council-lodge was
closed, and Wormley was about to commence his accusation, when he was
interrupted by an uproar without.



CHAPTER VII. OLD BLAZE IN A TIGHT PLACE.


“Durn the bushes!”

It was Old Blaze who spoke. He was slowly working his way through a
thicket, in pitchy darkness, and at every step he either stumbled
against a stone, or was brushed in the face by the limbs of the scraggy
saplings that abounded in the place.

“Durn the bushes! ’Pears like I won’t never git nowhar to-night. The
dark comes down in chunks, and e’en a’most smothers me, and these hyar
bushes are the peskiest things I ever lit into.”

Thus muttering and grumbling, the hunter pushed on, until he was fairly
out of the thicket.

“I reckon it’s all plain sailin’ now,” said he. “But it’s darker out
in the open than ’twas in thar, or this ole hoss has gone clean blind.
Hello! what’s this?”

“This” was a perpendicular wall of rock, against which he had walked in
the darkness.

“I ’lowed it was a thicker chunk of dark than or’nary,” he muttered,
“that had come along and struck me; but it seems to be solid rock.
Wonder, now, ef this hyar ain’t the very place whar Silverspur tumbled
over and nearly killed hisself. I wish I’d let the boy come on this
chase, as he wanted to, ’stead of leavin’ him up thar in the hills; but
I shouldn’t wonder ef he gits the wind of the game afore I do, arter
all. Wal, this rock cain’t be stepped over, and I reckon I’d best camp
right hyar and wait till mornin’.”

Without further ceremony, he laid down at the foot of the cliff, and
was soon sound asleep.

In the morning he was awake at the first glimpse of day, examined the
position in which he had passed the night, and reached, by a _détour_
that avoided the cliff, the high ground above. Before him was a bit
of prairie, and beyond the prairie was a broad belt of woodland. He
crossed the prairie, and entered the timber, moving cautiously, as he
knew that the Indian village he was seeking could not be far off.

From the edge of the belt of trees he saw the lodges, on the wooded
plain before him, and red-men and women walking about among them.

“This is all correct, as fur as heerd from,” he muttered; “but thar’s
suthin’ wrong somewhar. ’Pears to me that I smell Injuns, and the
critturs are up to some devilment, or Old Blaze is mighty bad fooled.
Thar’s one of ’em, and thar’s another! By the livin’ possums of old
Varginny! the timber’s full of ’em!”

He had turned, and he saw that the forest which he had just traversed
was alive with Indians. They had discovered his approach, had glided
into his rear unobserved, and were closing in upon him. As soon as he
saw them, they raised a yell, and rushed forward to capture him.

His quick glance told him that he was surrounded on all sides, except
that toward the village. Blaming himself for the lack of caution that
had led him into the hornets’ nest, he saw that he had no time to lose,
and made up his mind in an instant. He must run for his life, and he
would hardly save it by running in the direction in which his foes were
awaiting him. He must go where they were not expecting him, and that
course led directly through the village.

As the yells of the Indians rose behind him, he answered them with a
whoop, and bounded away toward the village. It was situated about two
hundred yards from his starting point, and the route lay across a level
plain, where scattered trees afforded him a partial cover.

Bullets and arrows whistled and sung about him as he ran; but he did
not heed them; his attention was concentrated upon the task before him,
and he did not fear the foe in his rear.

The Indians at the village, not expecting that his flight would take
such a direction, knew nothing of the presence of the fugitive, until
he burst in among them, dodging behind the lodges, and performing many
strange antics, as he twisted and turned, to avoid the missiles of his
pursuers. Then the women screamed, and the men yelled and ran for their
weapons, joining the chase.

But Old Blaze had safely passed through the village, and it is probable
that he would have succeeded in distancing his pursuers, had it not
been for the peculiar nature of the country in which he found himself.

The Indians, knowing what must shortly happen, sent a strong force
of well-armed runners to the left. The hunter soon found his course
stopped by a deep chasm that lay in front and to the right of him. The
chasm was impassable, and the only avenue of escape was at the left;
but this was blocked up, as he quickly perceived, by a body of his
enemies, who were also closing in behind him.

Under these circumstances, Old Blaze concluded that it would be better
for him to surrender, than to exasperate the Indians by fighting to the
death. He threw down his rifle and tomahawk, and advanced toward his
pursuers, holding out his hand, with a ludicrous attempt at a smile.

“As ye seem to want me so bad, red-skins, I’ll come to ye,” he said:
“but it’s a-treatin’ a feller mighty rough, when he comes a-visitin’ of
ye, to chase him as if he was a varmint.”

The Indians made no reply to this speech, but quietly bound their
captive, and carried him to the village, where he was tied to a stake
near the council-lodge.

It was an unpleasant predicament in which Old Blaze found himself; but
he was not one of those men who despair. While life lasted, there was a
chance to escape; if death should come, he would meet it like a man.
It was not long before he had reason to hope.

He saw a white man passing through the village. Although attired in the
Indian fashion, this man was undoubtedly white. He might be a renegade,
who had become a savage in nature, as well as in dress; or he might be
a trader, who would assent to every thing the Indians chose to do, for
the sake of gaining their favor. At all events, his face was white, and
he could not entirely have lost sympathy with the race from which he
sprung.

The prisoner beckoned to him; but Silas Wormley (for he was the white
man) did not appear to notice the signal. On the contrary, he quickened
his pace, as if he was desirous of “passing by on the other side.” But,
when he was called upon in the English language, in tones that plainly
showed that he was known to be a white man, he was obliged to stop and
turn around, with a look of affected surprise. He slowly walked over to
where the captive was standing, and was accosted by Old Blaze rather
roughly, considering the fact that the hunter needed his assistance.

“I say, stranger, has anybody sent fur ye, in a big hurry?”

“No. What do you mean by that?”

“Didn’t scare ye bad--did I?--when I made signals to ye from over hyar?”

“As I saw no signals, it is not to be supposed that I was to be scared
by them.”

“Kinder short-sighted, p’r’aps. When a man gits to lookin’ at dollars
right hard, ’pears like he cain’t see nothin’ else. Ye don’t say
whether ye’re glad to see me, or not.”

“I am truly sorry to see you here as a prisoner, although your manner
is not calculated to excite sympathy.”

“Old Blaze ain’t much of a calkilation’ man, I’m afeard.”

“I heard that a prisoner had been taken, but supposed it to be an
Indian. You are a white man, I believe.”

“Did ye raally hear that thar rumpus? I’m glad to know that ye ain’t
quite so hard o’ hearin’ as mought hev been expected. I do allow that
I’m a white man, stranger--white all over. Are you fixed up that way?”

“It is a strange question to ask. You see that I am a white man.”

“Are ye on good tarms with these hyar red-skins?”

“It is my business to be so. I am a trader, and have been among them
several months.”

“Ye wouldn’t mind tryin’ to help a feller out of sech a scrape as this
that I’m into--would ye?--ef a chance should show itself?”

“I would be glad to assist you, of course; but it would be a difficult
thing to do. Have you killed any of the Arapahoes?”

“Nary red-skin. Hain’t done ’em a bit of harm--leastways, not on _this_
tramp.”

“It must have been on some former occasion, then. I heard them say that
you were a dangerous enemy.”

“It’s easy enough to guess what _you_ are,” thought the hunter. “A
minute ago ye ’lowed that I was a red-skin, and now ye say that ye’ve
heerd the ’Rapahoes talkin’ about Old Blaze, as well they may. A man
who takes to hard lyin’ ort to hev a good memory. But I’ll give ye a
leetle more rope, and see whar ye’ll run to.”

“Inimy or no inimy,” he said, “I know what the critturs are and I know
that they’re likely to give me the wust kind of a killin’ they kin
scare up, unless I should happen to slip away from them, and I don’t
see any chance fur doin’ that, without help. Bein’ as ye’re a white
man, I ’lowed ye’d be glad to help a feller creetur in distress.”

“Certainly. Any thing I can do will be cheerfully done. But it’s a
difficult thing, as I told you. The Indians are very angry, and I, if I
should be discovered, would share your fate. Besides, the Arapahoes are
owing me a large sum. If I should lose it, it would ruin me. I must be
very careful, you see, and it is doubtful whether I can accomplish any
thing.”

“I see that ye’re a sneak,” thought Old Blaze. “Any white man who was
raally white would hev come to see me afore this, and would hev been
keen to help me without any axin’. It’s jist the easiest thing on airth
fur a man to find excuses fur not doin’ what he don’t want to do.”

“Yaas,” he said. “I wouldn’t hev ye resk yer precious life, stranger,
fur twenty doxen skulps like mine; and when it comes to reskin’
dollars, why, reckon no mortal man would be so owdacious as to ax
_that_ of ye. I’m a thousand times obleeged to ye fur yer good wishes,
and I make no doubt that ye’ll do all ye kin--to keep out of trouble.
Will ye be so kind as to tell me--ef thar ain’t nothin’ dangerous or
costly in it--whether thar’s an Injun gal livin’ hyar, who goes by the
name of Dove-eye?”

This question made the trader start. He turned quickly upon the
speaker, and his countenance plainly showed the suspicion that had
sprung up in his breast.

“Did a snake bite ye, stranger?--or did ye hear suthin’?” inquired Old
Blaze.

“What do you want of _her_?” roughly asked Wormley.

“Axin’ questions _may_ be a good way to help a feller when he’s in
trouble. Ef it is, stranger, ye’re a friend that it’ll allers do to
bet on. Ef a red-skin should be a-skelpin’ of me, I reckon ye’d want
to ax how old I was, and what was my mammy’s name, afore ye’d pull the
crittur off. Then it mought be too late.”

“What do you want of Dove-eye? I ask.”

“Thar it is ag’in. Old Blaze ain’t a bit hard of hearin’, or of seein’,
either. I reckon, from yer way of speakin’, that the gal is hyarabouts.
What I want of her is, jest to see her and speak to her. Ef ye’ll hunt
her up and tell her that, it’ll be a favor.”

“Tell me what business you have with her, and I will send her to you.”

“Business! Wal, that beats me! Ain’t I in a purty fix, tied up hyar, to
’tend to any kind of _business_? Ef ye allow that I’ve got a note ag’in
the gal, and want her to pay it, ye’re as much mistaken as ef ye’d bit
yer nose off, thinkin’ it mought be a chunk of buffler-hump. But thar’s
Dove-eye herself, I do believe. Yes; thar ain’t no mistakin’ _her_,
when a man has onct seen her.”

The hunter began to telegraph to the girl with great earnestness.
Wormley, who saw he was bound to attract the attention of Dove-eye, and
who had reasons of his own for not wishing to meet her then and there,
turned and walked away.

“That’s all the good I’ll git out of _him_,” muttered Old Blaze.
“Wonder ef he ain’t a little bit ashamed of hisself. This ole hoss
don’t mean to forgit him, sartin.”



CHAPTER VIII. A LOVER’S MEETING.


Dove-eye was not as slow of sight as Silas Wormley appeared to be. She
noticed the signals of Old Blaze, and came to him as the trader left
him.

“Did the white hunter beckon to Dove-eye?” she asked. “I am here. What
does he want?”

“Dove-eye is as beautiful as she is brave,” replied the hunter, in her
own language. “Being beautiful and brave, she must have a heart, and
she can feel for those who are in distress. I have been hunted down and
captured by the Arapahoes, although I have done them no harm. I did not
come here to harm them.”

“Dove-eye has seen Burnt Face in battle, and she knows that he is a
great brave. He has killed many Arapahoes, and the warriors would be
angry if they should lose him. Why was he spying about the village of
the Arapahoes?”

“For no harm, I tell you. Has Dove-eye forgotten Silverspur?”

The girl started at this name. The blood mounted to her face in an
instant, lighting up the olive of her complexion with a rich glow, and
a fierce light came into her large eyes. Then her long eyelashes fell,
and a mournful expression overspread her countenance.

“Dove-eye has not forgotten Silverspur,” she replied. “Ask the Crows,
and let them tell you whether he is forgotten. Their women are still
mourning for the warriors who have fallen to avenge the death of
Silverspur. Was Burnt Face his friend?”

“I was his friend, and still am. What bird has been whispering lies to
Dove-eye? If Silverspur is dead, the Crows know nothing of it.”

The light again came into the girl’s eyes; the color again mounted to
her cheeks, and wild joy and hope showed themselves in every feature.

“The Big Medicine of the Arapahoes told me that he was dead,” she
replied. “He said that Silverspur was killed by the Crows, and that he
saw him slain.”

“The Big Medicine lied, or his eyes were blinded. If Silverspur is
dead, he was not killed by the Crows. If he is dead, he must have died
within two suns, as the sun has not risen twice since I saw him.”

“Does Burnt Face speak truly, or does he wish to make the heart of
Dove-eye soft, that she may take pity on him?”

“Burnt Face has spoken truly. Does Dove-eye remember, when she fought
with her warriors against the Crows on the Sweetwater, when the Crows
at last charged upon their enemies, and the Arapahoes were compelled to
fly for their lives?”

“Dove-eye has not forgotten. Burnt Face was there.”

“Does she remember, when the fighting was over, and she was riding away
alone, that she met a white man, and threw her battle-ax at him as she
rode past him?”

“I killed him. My battle-ax struck him on the head, and knocked him
from his horse.”

“You did not kill him. He had been very sick, and he was so weak that
he fell from his horse. That white man was Silverspur.”

“Yes! Burnt Face speaks truly. I know, now, that it was Silverspur; but
he was greatly changed. Is it not two suns since you saw him? He must,
then, be not far from here. Where is he?”

Old Blaze described the spot at which he had left his friend, and
Dove-eye, her eyes full of joy and eagerness, was about to hasten from
him, when he detained her.

“Will not Dove-eye wait a moment?” he asked. “A few minutes will not
lose Silverspur. I am a prisoner, and the warriors will kill me, unless
I can escape from them.”

“Let Burnt Face wait. He has brought me good news, and I will not
forget him. If the news is true, he need not fear. I must first see
Silverspur.”

She sped away, lightly and gracefully as a gazelle, and the hunter
gazed after her with admiring eyes.

“I kin trust that gal, sartin,” said Old Blaze, relapsing into his
vernacular. “Anyhow, she will see Silverspur, and I kin allers bet on
_him_. Ef he and that gal put thar wits together, my skulp is safe. I
wish that red dog of a white man would come along, so’s I could give
him a squar’ and independent talkin’-to.”

But Silas Wormley was engaged in looking after Dove-eye. He had watched
her, from the shadow of a lodge, as she conversed with the captive, and
he intended to follow her when she stepped away so lightly and gayly.

Dove-eye, eager as she was to greet Silverspur, whom she had so long
believed to be dead, had not laid aside the caution which had become a
part of her nature. Every now and then she cast stealthy glances behind
and about her, to see if her movements were observed, and she soon
perceived the espionage of the trader.

It was easy enough to baffle _him_, she thought. Her route lay toward
the west, among hills and ravines. She turned toward the south, passed
over the brow of a hill in full sight of the trader, and then concealed
herself among some bushes in a ravine. In a few moments he came up, and
passed her hastily. When she had got him fairly on the wrong track, she
emerged from her concealment, and shaped her course toward the west,
moving silently and swiftly.

Soon she was in the mountains, before the lodge at the foot of the
cliff. She paused a moment; but that was not the place she sought.
She went on, up the same ravine that she had climbed with the old
medicine-man at the time of the attack by the Crows. She reached the
plateau where they had concealed themselves, and there, as she stopped
a moment to breathe, from the same clump of cedars in which she had
once hid, a man started up before her.

It was Silverspur. She knew him now, although he had changed so much
since she saved his life and nursed him while he lay wounded and
helpless. She joyfully ran forward to meet him, and he advanced no less
eagerly.

“Is this really you, Dove-eye?” he asked, speaking in the Dacotah
dialect. “I have been searching for you. I have traveled far to find
you. How did you happen to come to this place?”

“I came to meet you. I was told that you were here, and I hastened to
see you.”

“Who told you?”

“Your friend, Burnt Face.”

“You have seen him, then. Where is he?”

“At the village. He is a prisoner.”

Silverspur was astonished. Old Blaze a prisoner! He would have
anticipated any thing sooner than the capture of the veteran hunter,
and this misfortune troubled him greatly.

“The Arapahoes will kill him,” he said. “Something must be done. I must
save him, if possible, whatever happens.”

“He asked me to help him; but I told him that I must first see you.
There is time enough to think about him.”

“And you hastened to meet me? Had you not forgotten me?”

“Dove-eye had not forgotten. They told me that you were dead--that the
Crows had killed you. I vowed to avenge your death upon the Crows, and
for that purpose I became a warrior.”

“The Crows are my friends. They would never harm me. I was with them at
the Sweetwater, when they fought the Arapahoes, and I saw you there.”

“Burnt Face told me of that,” replied the girl, with a blush. “I threw
my battle-ax at you; but I did not know you. I am very sorry.”

“It is strange that you were permitted to become a warrior. How did
that happen?”

“It is a long story. Do you wish me to tell you all?”

As Silverspur did wish her to tell all, he made her sit by his side,
and she related her adventures since they had parted at the lodge in
the cliff. She told them briefly and modestly; but there was in them so
much that was wonderful and peculiar, so much strength and quickness of
mind, so much energy, and so much heroism, that the young man gazed at
her in admiration, and could not help interrupting her, now and then,
to express his opinion of her achievements.

When she had finished, he sat in silence a few moments, evidently in
a “brown study.” Then he looked up, and spoke quickly, as a thought
occurred to him.

“You are still in danger,” he said; “but I think I see a way out of
this trouble. You have planned excellently to turn the tables on that
trader, and I have no doubt that you will succeed in blinding the eyes
of the old men, if he reports what he has discovered; but there is
another difficulty. The time is near that you had set for the return of
the Big Medicine, and it is not to be supposed that they will submit
to any further delay. What did you intend to do, when they should call
upon you, a second time, to produce him?”

“I hoped that I would be killed in battle before that time should
arrive. Then I thought of flight; but I would have been safe nowhere,
and I might as well die here as elsewhere. I expected to die; but the
Great Spirit sent you to me, and now I wish to live.”

“You might fly with me, and we might escape together, if my friend was
free. I can not leave him in danger, and I hardly know what I should
do without him. I have a plan by which he can be saved, I believe, and
then we will have no more trouble.”

“The Great Spirit has surely sent you. What is your plan?”

“What is to prevent us from bringing back the Big Medicine?”

“He is dead.”

“We can bring him to life.”

“Is the white man’s medicine so strong? I would be afraid, if he should
return from the spirit-land, that he would tell the warriors how I had
deceived them, and then they would be more angry than ever.”

“I do not say that I can really bring him back to life. _I_ will be the
Big Medicine.”

The girl uttered an exclamation of joy, as her quick wit caught
Silverspur’s meaning.

“But he was so old and ugly,” she said, “and you are young and--”

“Handsome, you mean, of course. I can stain my face, and can put on
gray hair and beard, and I need not let the warriors come near me, and
it will be but for a little while. You can tell me what to say--they
will be ready to believe almost any thing--and we can be far from here
before they will have a chance to discover how they have been cheated.”

Dove-eye made many objections to this plan, fearing that it would
endanger the life of Silverspur; but he overruled them all, and
they went together to the lodge at the foot of the cliff, to arrange
the details. She confided in Jose, who promised secrecy and all the
assistance that he could render.

It was agreed that Silverspur should take up his abode, for the
present, in the cavern in which he had been concealed by Dove-eye when
he was wounded. He surveyed the rude apartment with a look of pleasure.

“I have never forgotten this place,” he said. “It has always been dear
to me, and I am glad to return to it.”

“And Dove-eye is happy,” replied the girl, blushing as she busied
herself in arranging the scanty furniture.

Having given Silverspur her parting directions, and cautioned him not
to leave the cavern, she returned to the village.



CHAPTER IX. DOVE-EYE DENOUNCED.


Silas Wormley was just about to denounce Dove-eye to the old men of
the tribe, when he was interrupted by the uproar that preceded the
capture of Old Blase, and which at once emptied the council-house. As
it was “bad medicine” to return to the lodge that day, the meeting was
postponed until the next morning, when the trader was called before the
elders, and requested to proceed with his important communication.

By this time Wormley had “repented him of his wrath.” He was sorry that
he had been so hasty, and wished that he had given Dove-eye another
chance, before going so far as to denounce her. But it was too late to
retrieve. The Indians were eager to hear the expected communication,
and no excuse would avail.

Rising slowly, and speaking in the inflated style of the savage
orators, with which he had become thoroughly familiar, he held forth as
follows:

“Let the wise old men listen! The Snake is a friend to the Arapahoes,
and they know it. When they were in need, and no other trader would
furnish them with powder and lead or cloth and beads, because they were
poor, and had no robes with which to pay for what they needed, the
heart and the hand of the Snake were open, and he furnished them with
every thing they wanted, for themselves and their women. The Snake has
always wished well to the Arapahoes, and has never lied to them. Let
them now listen to his words.

“There was once a man among the Arapahoes, who was so wise that he was
called the Big Medicine. He counseled the people, and they heeded his
advice, until he died, and went to the spirit-land.”

“The Snake is mistaken,” said one of the old men. “The Big Medicine did
not die. He went to the spirit-land; but he will return.”

“Let the wise men listen! Dove-eye told them, nearly twelve moons ago,
that the Big Medicine had gone to the spirit-land, and that he would
return in six moons. She had often brought messages to the people from
him, and they believed her words. They fought the Crows for a long
time, and lost many warriors gaining nothing but a few scalps and
horses. When six moons had passed, Dove-eye told the wise men that it
would be yet another six moons before he would return. This was hard to
believe, and there were some who suspected that Dove-eye was lying to
the people. I knew that she was lying, and I am ready to prove it to
the wise men.”

“The Snake had better be careful how he speaks,” said Black Horse. “If
he does not speak the truth in this matter, he will suffer for his
lies.”

“The Snake is not afraid. He is ready to prove his words. The Big
Medicine will never return from the spirit-land. He died, and was
buried by Dove-eye, with the help of her black slave. I have seen the
grave. I have seen the body of the old man. It has lain so long in the
ground, that you would not recognize the face; but you would know his
white hair and beard and the robe that he wore.”

“Let the Snake prove that he has spoken truly.”

Wormley mentioned the name of Bull-tail as a witness to what he had
seen, and the vagabond was called in. He corroborated Wormley in all
particulars, and went further than that worthy, for he described the
whipping and choking process by which Jose had been induced to lead
them to the grave.

The confidence of the old men in Dove-eye, already weakened, was
greatly shaken by this revelation. The trader was not regarded as a
man of the strictest veracity, and his witness was entitled to little
credit; but they could not believe that he would make such statements,
unless he was sure that he had good foundation for them. They
determined to bring Dove-eye before the council, and to confront her
with her accuser.

The girl listened to the charge, as detailed by the head chief, with
the greatest possible composure. When he had ended, she pointed at
Wormley, with a glance of ineffable scorn.

“Let the chief believe the words of that man,” she said, “and Dove-eye
is sure that he will never again be believed among the Arapahoes. Let
him believe the words of a lying trader, and the words of a sneaking
vagabond who was never believed before. Are these not better than
Dove-eye, whom the chief has never known to lie? Let me carry the
sand and the wood and elk-chips into the medicine-lodge, and let the
warriors cut me in pieces as I pass among them. Come! If Dove-eye has
spoken falsely, she is ready to die.”

Wormley shrunk back, and the countenance of the chief showed that he
was moved by the undaunted demeanor of the girl.

“Why should Dove-eye deceive the people?” he asked. “What could she
gain by lying to us?”

“Dove-eye is beautiful,” replied the trader. “Many of the young men of
the Arapahoes have sought her in marriage; but she would not listen to
them, as she thought herself too good to enter the lodge of a warrior.
While the Big Medicine lived, she was allowed to do as she pleased.
When he was dead, she wished to become a warrior, that she might still
be independent.”

“The lying trader does not tell all,” said Dove-eye, with another
of her scornful glances. “He should also say that he sought me in
marriage. When I refused to listen to him, he invented this accusation
to destroy me. But this is only talk. Words cost nothing, and it is
easy to lie. If the Big Medicine is dead, let the Snake show his grave
to the old men. When Dove-eye sees his body, she will be ready to die.”

Wormley looked at the girl in astonishment--she was so cool and
self-possessed, in view of the fate that awaited her upon the discovery
of her imposture. A suspicion entered his mind, for the first time,
that his game might not be as certain as he had believed it to be. He
knew her to be of a daring spirit and fertile in resources, and he
began to fear that she had played him some trick that would confound
his plans and render him, instead of her, the victim of the outraged
dignity of the Arapahoes.

“Let the trader prove his words,” said Black Horse. “Let him lead us to
the grave. If the Big Medicine is dead, we will know his body.”

There was nothing else for it. Sullenly and reluctantly Wormley led the
way out of the council lodge, followed by the old men, and accompanied
by Dove-eye and his vagabond accomplice.

He halted in the ravine where he found the grave, and pointed out the
spot to the old men. The ground was precisely as he had left it. Even
the sharpened stick which he had used for digging lay where he had
thrown it. He glanced at Dove-eye, and the half-scornful, half-amused
expression of her countenance struck him as strangely out of place.

“Let the wise men dig there,” he said, “and they will find the body of
the Big Medicine.”

Bull-tail was made to throw out the earth from the grave, and he soon
uncovered the face and breast of a dead Indian. As he did so, he
started back with a look of amazement. Wormley rushed forward, and saw
at once that he had been discomfited.

“The Snake has lied to us,” said Black Horse. “There is a body here;
but it is not that of the Big Medicine. The hair of this man is black,
and he has no beard.”

Wormley again glanced at Dove-eye, who was smilingly triumphant.

“There has been foul-play here,” he said. “The body of the old man has
been removed, and this has been put in its place. If the wise men will
look, they may find the trail of those who took it away; for it has not
been long since it was removed.”

Black Horse was incredulous; but he directed a search to be made. No
trail could be found, as Jose had not left the slightest trace by which
he could be followed.

“I have not lied to the wise men,” said Wormley. “Can they suppose that
I would have spoken so positively, and that I would have brought them
here to see the body of the Big Medicine, unless I had believed it to
be here? It _was_ here; but it has been cunningly taken away. I saw it
lying in that grave, I can swear that I saw the long white hair and the
white beard and the curious robe. Bull-tail, too, can swear that he saw
them.”

The vagabond was about to speak, when Dove-eye turned upon him, with
flashing eyes.

“Let the Snake tell his own lies!” she exclaimed. “Do you think the old
men will listen to _you_, whose word no man ever believed? Begone, dog
of a Pawnee! The old women at the village are waiting to whip you for
failing to scrape their kettles.”

Bull-tail sneaked away, and Wormley would have followed him; but he was
prevented by the chief.

“I have told the old men,” continued Dove-eye, “that this trader sought
me in marriage, and that he invented this tale to destroy me, because I
refused to listen to him. Dove-eye spoke truly when she said that the
Big Medicine would return within six moons. He has already returned. I
have seen him. If the old men and the warriors will come to the lodge
at the foot of the cliff to-morrow morning, they, also, can see him,
and can hear him speak.”

It lacked but this to fill the measure of Silas Wormley’s astonishment
and discomfiture. He looked at Dove-eye, and her confident and
triumphant air convinced him that she was in earnest, and that she knew
the game she was playing.

Black Horse and the other old men received her announcement with the
greatest delight. They at once returned to the village, where they
caused Wormley to be placed in close confinement.

As soon as possible Dove-eye sought and obtained an interview with Old
Blaze, whose case had been overlooked during the investigation of the
trader’s charges. He had not been forgotten; but a strong guard had
been set over him, until the council should decide his fate. Dove-eye
briefly told him of her interview with Silverspur, and assured him that
he need feel no uneasiness concerning his own safety. She then hastened
to the lodge at the foot of the cliff, to rehearse with Silverspur the
performance of the next morning.



CHAPTER X. THE FALSE PROPHET.


It was a joyful procession that left the Arapaho village to visit
the old medicine-man. It was a twelvemonth since he had shown his
face to the tribe, and their anxiety to see him was most intense. The
mysterious and the supernatural profoundly affect the nature of the
savage, as well as of the civilized man. The Arapahoes, convinced that
their prophet possessed supernatural powers of a high order, were sure
that he had come laden with news from the spirit-land, all of which
they were eager to hear and prepared implicitly to believe.

Dove-eye, accompanied by Black Horse, led the procession. Next came the
old chiefs, the counselors of the tribe, looking as wise and solemn as
the occasion demanded, and after them a large concourse of warriors,
the women and children not being allowed to take part in the sacred
mission.

When they reached the lodge at the foot of the cliff, Dove-eye
requested the chief to remain there a few minutes, until she could go
in and ascertain whether the Big Medicine was strong enough to receive
them; in other words, until she could make sure that Silverspur was
prepared to play his part in the performance.

All was ready, and she led the procession into the hut that formed the
entrance to the cavern. The rear apartment was not lighted, and the
Indians could see nothing until their eyes became accustomed to the
darkness. Then they perceived a man, seated on a bench in the cavern,
with his face toward them. This man had the death-like complexion of
the old medicine-man, as well as his long gray hair and flowing white
beard, and was wrapped in the deerskin robe, covered with strange
devices, which their prophet had always worn. If there was any thing
lacking in the resemblance, their excited imaginations easily supplied
the lack.

They recognized him immediately, and were about to step forward and
greet him, when he motioned them back by a wave of his hand, and
Dove-eye interposed herself at the entrance of the cavern.

“I am very weak, my children,” he said, in feeble and broken tones
that could not fail to convince his auditors that he spoke truly. “I
have long been absent from my people, and during all that time I have
not tasted earthly food. In the happy hunting-grounds I was young and
strong; but since I have returned, I am older and more feeble than
ever. I must eat a great deal of earthly food before I will be strong
enough to stand without assistance. I will send Jose to the village,
therefore, and you must give him a great load of dried meat and
pemmican and meal of the maize, that I may eat and be refreshed.”

“It shall be done,” replied Black Horse. “Is the Big Medicine satisfied
with his children?”

“I would be very well satisfied, if your conduct lately had not given
me great pain. You almost refused to believe the message that I sent to
you by my child, and you believed the words of a lying trader, when he
accused her of having deceived you in my name. Had Dove-eye ever lied
to you?”

“Dove-eye had never lied to us. We are sorry that we listened to the
talk of the trader, and he shall be burned.”

“Let him not be killed. He is a fool, and he has hurt himself more than
he has injured Dove-eye. Those who are under the protection of the
Great Spirit can not be harmed by any man. The people are owing the
Snake for powder and lead and blankets and other articles. Let them
release him; but let them give him to understand that they will not pay
him any thing, that he has canceled the debt by his lying reports.”

A general grunt of assent followed this sage advice, which so easily
reconciled the Arapahoes desire of repudiation with their loose ideas
of honor.

“Our father gives good advice,” said the chief, “and it will surely
be heeded. But he seems to have nearly forgotten the language of his
people. It is hard to understand all that he says.”

“All Indians are at peace in the spirit-land,” replied the pseudo
prophet, “and all languages are mingled into one, I have been so long
speaking the language of the spirit-land, that it is natural to me
to use it; but I will soon become accustomed to the speech of my own
people.”

Silverspur, having been duly tutored by Dove-eve, then mentioned the
names of several distinguished warriors who had fallen in battle, and
told of their pursuits and progress in the spirit-land, together with
the messages which they had sent to their friends--all of which was
highly satisfactory to his credulous auditors. He concluded as follows:

“My children have done well to make war upon the Crows, to punish them
for their cruel and unprovoked attack, in which so many of our warriors
were slain. They have done enough. They have taken a great revenge.
The Great Spirit is satisfied, and our warriors in the spirit-land are
satisfied. Let them now make peace with the Crows.”

“What our father tells us is hard to do,” replied Black Horse. “If we
should now send to the Crows to ask for peace, they would kill the
messengers.”

“You have a white captive, whom you call Burnt Face. He is a friend of
the Crows, and has great influence among them. Release him, and send
him to the Crows, and he will make peace for you.”

“The Big Medicine knows every thing. It shall be as he says. Does our
father wish to say any thing more to his children?”

“Nothing; except that you must not visit me again until six suns have
passed. Then I will be strong and well, and I can take my children by
the hand and talk to them.”

The Indians silently left the lodge, and the procession wended its way
down the mountain. Dove-eye watched them until they were out of sight,
and then hastened back to Silverspur, who had thrown aside his disguise.

“Was it well done?” he asked, as he greeted her joyfully “Do you think
they can suspect any thing wrong?”

“It was very well done. Silverspur is a wonderful man. Why did you
tell them that they must not come here again until after six suns?”

“By that time, I hope, we will be far from here. I wished to keep them
from molesting us when we leave.”

“I had guessed that. Why did you ask the chief for a big load of dried
meat and pemmican and maize meal?”

“So that we can have plenty to eat on our journey, and need not stop to
hunt.”

“I can understand that, too. But why did you tell them to let the Snake
go?”

“He has not really done any harm, although he wished to do harm. If he
loses his money, that will be a sufficient punishment for him. You must
go to the village, Dove-eye, and see if all is going on well there, and
if they released Burnt Face. If they do release him, send him or bring
him here; but he ought not to be seen coming here.”

Old Blaze had been released from captivity before Dove-eye reached the
village, and was in the council-lodge with the old men, who were giving
him instructions concerning his mission to the Crows. He had been
greatly astonished at the turn his affairs had taken, but had prudently
kept his astonishment to himself. He was sure that Silverspur and
Dove-eye had had something to do with his release, and he resolved not
to do or say any thing that might interfere with their plans.

When the chief told him that he had been informed that the Burnt Face
was a friend of the Crows, and that he would be willing to undertake
a mission of peace to them from the Arapahoes, he guessed who the
informant was, and readily assented to both propositions. He only asked
that his rifle should be returned to him, and expressed his willingness
to set forth at any moment. Having received his instructions as
ambassador, he was dismissed from the council-lodge, and soon met
Dove-eye in the village. She said only a word to him, and left him,
but joined him after a little while, in a ravine a short distance from
the village. She then led him to the lodge at the foot of the cliff,
giving him, by the way, a brief outline of the doings of Silverspur and
herself.

The hunter thanked his friend for his rescue, and complimented him upon
his tact and adroitness.

“It was nothing,” replied Silverspur “It was only fun to me, and I was
really quite selfish about it. It was necessary to get Dove-eye out of
the scrape, and you know that I could not get along without you.”

“It’s a heap to me, boy, and I’m obleeged to ye all the same. Here I
am, a-livin’, and I’ve got old Jule back, too, when I didn’t hev the
least idee that I’d ever set eyes onto the old critter ag’in.”

He caressed his rifle affectionately, and accepted an invitation to
smoke.

“Ye’ve done wrong,” he continued, “’cordin’ to my notion, in lettin’
that tradin’ crittur go. Ef the red-skins wanted to kill him, I don’t
believe this child would hev hindered ’em.”

“Would you wish them to murder a fellow-creature--a man of our own
race?”

“I don’t call it murder to kill snakes. I don’t consider that chap a
feller-crittur, and he ain’t a man of my race, sartin. He lacks a heap
of bein’ a white man, and he’s wuss’n a red-skin. Even a Digger Injun
would try to help another Digger out of trouble; but that tradin’ chap
wouldn’t lift a finger to save yer skulp, onless he was well paid
fur it. I know what he’s made of, and it’s the kind o’ timber, to my
notion, that ort to burn. Ef he had had his way, Dove-eye would hev
been chopped into little pieces by this time.”

“But she is safe, and he can do no more harm. We will soon be far from
here.”

“I’d like to give the crittur a talkin’ to afore I go. When do ye allow
to leave?”

“To-morrow. We can hardly get ready to start to-night. Jose must go to
the village and bring us a load of provisions. Your horse and mine are
safe where we left them. You must make the Indians give you at least
two horses to carry you to the Crows. Jose will get one for himself,
and that will be enough to carry ourselves and our plunder.”

“Are ye goin’ to take that thar niggur?”

“Yes. He wishes to follow his mistress, and she wishes it, too. We will
start in the morning, if you see no objection to that move. We will
have a clear field for a start, and it will be several days, I think,
before the Arapahoes find out that we are gone.”

“I don’t see nothin’ to hinder. It’s all right, as fur as I kin
calkilate; but I wish ye’d let the Injuns take keer of that trader. I
don’t like his looks, and he reminds me, somehow, of a chap I once met,
many year ago, who did me a heap of harm.”

“What was that, old friend?”

“I don’t like to talk about it; but I married and settled down once,
when beaver was high, and I had made a good pile by trappin’. My wife
was a Delewar’ woman, and what ye mought call handsome. People didn’t
call me Old Blaze then; but I was known as Ben Farrar--_Mister_ Ben
Farrar. Thar come along a tradin’ chap named Bob Riley, and he run off
with my squaw afore I’d well got to know who he was. I mought hev got
along well enough without the woman; but she kerried off my boy with
her, and he was a powerful pert little chap. It went hard with me to
lose him, and I follered up thar trail right sharp; but they went into
the settlements, and I had to give it up. That busted up my settlin’,
and I’ve been a tol’abul wild crittur ever sence.”

“Do you say that the trader reminds you of that man?”

“Kinder. The more I think of it, the more I see the favor. Ef he don’t
keep out of my way, his looks may kill him yit. Wal, I must be gittin’
down to the village.”



CHAPTER XI. NOT UNWHIPT OF JUSTICE.


Silas Wormley was as much astonished at his release as Old Blaze had
been at receiving a similar favor. He had fully expected that the
Indians would mete out to him the same fate that would have awaited
Dove-eye if he had succeeded in exposing her imposture, and he saw no
way to extricate himself from the dilemma.

When he was informed that he was released by the order of the Big
Medicine, he had his guess at the truth of the matter, as the hunter
had had his. He perceived that Dove-eye had outwitted him, and he felt
a strong desire to “get even” with her. This desire was intensified
when he was further informed that the Arapahoes, in accordance with the
direction of the Big Medicine, had determined not to pay what they were
owing him, considering his false accusations, a receipt in full for
all indebtedness. This was touching him in the pocket; it was ruining
him in business, and he resolved that the matter should not rest as
Dove-eye had left it.

Making inquiries in the village, he learned all the particulars of the
visit to the lodge of the Big Medicine. He wondered at the shrewdness
of Dove-eye, no less than at the credulity of the Indians. He had
received a practical, matter-of-fact education, and had been brought
up with a contempt for witchcraft, ghost-seers, prophecies, and all
that savored of the supernatural. It would have been as impossible to
make him believe that the Big Medicine had been to the spirit-land
and returned, as to convince him that the Arapahoes had cut his head
off. He knew that Dove-eye had been deceiving the people, and he felt
that both principal and interest (of the debts the Arapahoes owed him)
required him to expose the imposture. He knew, also, that it would
never do for him to make a second failure, as death would surely be the
penalty for another unsuccessful attempt. Nevertheless, he was willing
to run some risk. Although he would not wet his feet to save the life
of a fellow-man, he would dive to recover his pocket-book.

Had the old medicine-man been alive and concealed all this time, and
had the girl been acting only as his instrument in the deception, or
had she some other confederate, who had personated the Big Medicine? It
could not be that the old man was alive, for he had seen him lying in
his grave. The trader had no doubt of this, although the body had been
so cunningly spirited away, he had never seen the old man in life; but
Bull-tail could not have wished to deceive him. The hair, the features
and the dress of the body corresponded exactly with the descriptions of
the Big Medicine, and he had noticed a medal lying on his breast, which
he had frequently heard mentioned and described. Besides, if the body
had not been that of the Big Medicine, Dove-eye would not have taken
the trouble to remove it and put another in its place. She had another
confederate, and who was he?

Silas Wormley was shrewd enough; but his heart and brain were so
contracted, that his shrewdness was exercised only on a small scale,
he suspected that Dove-eye’s confederate was a white man, and there
were two circumstances that confirmed him in that suspicion. The Big
Medicine, he was told, had spoken quite imperfectly the dialect used by
the Arapahoes, and the lame excuse which he had given, although it had
easily satisfied the credulous Indians, had another effect upon Silas
Wormley. Again--why had he directed the Arapahoes to release Old Blaze,
about whom he seemed to know so much? What was the hunter doing when he
was captured near the village? For what purpose had he come there? The
trader knew that white men on the plains, like snakes, are generally
found in couples. When one is seen, there is another not far from him.

Putting this and that together, his natural shrewdness stimulated by
his desire for money and for Dove-eye, the trader concluded that there
must be a white man at the bottom of the mystery, and that the white
man was concealed at the lodge of the Big Medicine, he determined to
reconnoiter that position, and to make such discoveries as he could,
with as little danger to himself as possible.

He set out, accordingly, at a late hour in the evening, and went direct
to the lodge at the foot of the cliff. Finding no entrance except
through the hut, he crept as near to it as he dared, for the purpose of
peeping and listening.

His enterprise was rewarded. He heard two voices, one of which he
recognized as Dove-eye’s, and the other was that of a man. Yes, it was
a white man’s voice; there was no mistaking the tone and the accent. He
could not hear what they were saying; but they laughed merrily every
now and then, and he had no doubt that they were discussing the events
of the morning.

He was about to creep up closer; but he heard Dove-eye, as she moved
toward the entrance, say that she must return to the village, and he
was obliged to hasten away and conceal himself.

He watched the girl until she was out of sight, and then decided that
he would make a closer examination of the lodge, in order to satisfy
himself who and what the white man was.

There was an obstacle in his way. As he emerged from his hiding place,
he was confronted by a dark and stalwart form.

It was the negro, Jose. In one hand he held a stout stick, and in the
other he carried a leather thong.

“I saw you coming,” he said, “and I watched you. You whipped Jose, and
now it is Jose’s turn to whip you.”

The trader hastily drew a pistol from his belt; but Jose’s stick
knocked it from his hand before he could cock it. The next instant he
was struggling in vain to release himself from the brawny arms of the
negro.

“You had better be quiet,” said Jose. “If you make any noise, I will
kill you. Go on!”

Having securely tied the hands of his victim, Jose flourished his stick
over his head, and led him, holding the end of the leather thong, down
into a thickly wooded ravine, where he fastened him to a tree. He then
cut some tough switches, and addressed himself to his work.

Wormley begged piteously that his back might be spared, and then tried
bribes and threats; but all without effect upon the obdurate negro,
whose reply was always the same.

“You whipped Jose, and Jose means to whip you.”

And he did whip him. He plied his switches so effectually, that the
trader squirmed and writhed, and cried and screamed, and called vainly
for help. It was not until the negro had exhausted his switches, and
had gone to procure a fresh supply that the victim had any respite.
He anxiously looked around, hoping that somebody might have heard his
appeals for help, and was delighted to see a man coming down the ravine
toward him.

As it was dusk, he could not distinguish the features of the stranger
until he came nearer, when he perceived that it was the white captive
who had asked his aid in the village. At the same moment the negro
returned with more switches.

Seeing the white man, Jose hesitated for a moment; but, as Old Blaze
calmly seated himself on a log, and showed no disposition to interfere,
he proceeded to administer another dose of the oil of hickory.

“Won’t you take this nigger off of me, mister?” entreated Wormley. “He
has been torturing me more than half an hour and you see that he means
to begin again.”

“Are ye right shore that it’s more’n half an hour?” replied the hunter.
“Do ye kerry a watch, stranger?”

“The exact time is a matter of no consequence. You see what he has
done. Don’t you mean to stop him?”

“I’m mighty sorry to see ye in that fix, stranger, and would like to
help ye; but it’s a difficult thing to do.”

“It is very easy, if you wish to do it.”

“Thar ain’t no tellin’ how much I want to help you. War ye a-doin of
any harm to the niggur?”

“None at all.”

“I’ve heern tell that that niggur has got a grudge ag’in ye, ’cause ye
gin him a powerful whalin’ and chokin’ a while ago. That niggur is mad,
and it mought be dangerous fur me to interfere with him.”

Jose stopped the colloquy by applying a few more stripes, and then the
trader again besought the aid of Old Blaze.

“I tell ye that I’m mons’ous sorry to see ye in this fix,” replied the
hunter. “What more kin ye ax? I shouldn’t wonder ef that niggur is five
or six pound heavier than I am, and ye wouldn’t want me to resk my life
by buttin’ ag’in him.”

“If you have the heart of a man, you will not allow him to torment me
any longer.”

“I’ve got abundance of heart, stranger. In fact, my heart is bigger
than a skinned hoss; but I’m kinder afeard. That thar niggur mought be
owin’ me suthin sometime, and p’raps, ef I should interfere with him
now, he wouldn’t be willin’ to pay me.”

“Jose has whipped you for himself,” said the negro. “He must now whip
you for Dove-eye.”

He proved his zeal in the cause of his mistress by administering a
dozen more blows, well laid on, and then he turned his victim loose.

“I’m glad that ye’re well orter that scrape, stranger,” said Old Blaze,
rising to his feet. “Now I want ye to answer me one question. ’Pears
like I’ve seen ye somewhar, sometime. Did ye ever go by the name of Bob
Riley?”

The trader turned a frightened, suspicious glance upon his questioner,
and then with a cry of alarm, ran at full speed down the ravine. Old
Blaze quickly raised his rifle to his shoulder, but lowered it after a
moment’s thought.

“It would bring the Injuns down on us,” he muttered, “and that mought
upset some of Silverspur’s plans. But I do believe it is the same chap.”

He walked up to Dove-eye’s lodge, followed by Jose, who was supremely
gratified at having been allowed to work out his revenge without
hindrance.

Silas Wormley, however, was by no means gratified or satisfied. When
he believed himself beyond the pursuit of Old Blaze, he slackened his
speed, but did not stop until he was safe in the village and in his
own lodge. His back smarted to such an extent that he could not sleep,
and he passed a restless night, thinking of his degrading and painful
punishment, and revolving plans of vengeance.

He was determined to be revenged, cost what it might, upon the negro,
as well as upon Dove-eye and the white man whom he believed to be her
confederate. There was but one way of accomplishing this--to expose
completely the deception that had been practiced. He was afraid to
prosecute his search while Old Blaze was in the neighborhood; but the
hunter was to go away at an early hour in the morning, and then the
coast would be clear.

He did not stir from his lodge until Old Blaze had left the village,
and then he waited until evening before he ventured up into the
mountains. He went armed, to defend himself against Jose, intending
that the negro should not again take him at a disadvantage.

He carefully reconnoitered the lodge of Dove-eye before he ventured to
approach it, but saw nothing to indicate that it was inhabited. He went
nearer, and the same quiet and absence of incident prevailed. At length
he went to the hut, and looked in at the door, when he saw that the
tenement was deserted. He entered it, and the sight that met his eyes
convinced him that his suspicions had been well founded.

Among other evidences of a hasty departure, he saw a quantity of long
white hair on the stone floor of the cavern in the rear, and a robe of
deerskin, covered with strange devices. A closer search revealed a spur
lying in one corner--a large and handsome spur, of solid silver, with a
steel rowel. This had been, without doubt, the property of Dove-eye’s
white confederate.

Leaving things as he had found them, Wormley hastened back to the
village, and told the head chief what he had discovered. Black Horse
listened to him with the greatest incredulity, and it was not until he
had repeated his story, with the strongest possible asservations of its
truth, that the chief could be induced to call together the old men.

The trader argued his cause before them with great earnestness, feeling
that his money and his revenge, if not his life, were now depending on
his success, and at last they reluctantly consented to pay a visit to
the lodge of the Big Medicine.

When they reached the lodge, however, and saw the proofs that Wormley
had to show them, they were not as easily convinced as he had expected
them to be. The cherished belief of many years was not to be demolished
at one blow. Even the spur of silver, which he triumphantly exhibited
to them, did not shake their confidence in Dove-eye.

“I know the white man who wore this,” said Black Horse as he held
up the spur. “He is named Silverspur. He is a great warrior, and is
a friend of the Crows. He may have been here. He may have captured
Dove-eye and carried her away. If he has been here, that does not
prove that the Big Medicine is dead, or that Dove-eye has deceived the
people.”

“If the Big Medicine is alive,” replied the trader, “where is he? He
was so weak that he could not move, and no one was to be allowed to
touch him for six suns; but he is not here.”

“He may have gone out to walk,” suggested the chief, “or the white men
may have captured both him and Dove-eye. Dove-eye is very beautiful,
and the Big Medicine is very wise. The white people would be very glad
to have both of them.”

Wormley was disgusted at this view of the subject, which seemed to him
to be the hight of unreason. He began to despair of carrying his point,
and it is probable that the investigation would have been abandoned,
but for an unforeseen occurrence.

Two warriors, who had been sent to search for trails in the vicinity,
returned and reported that they had came upon a grave that had been
recently made. Surprised to find a grave in that locality, they had
examined it, and had discovered the body of the Big Medicine.

At this announcement the old men hurried off in undignified haste to
visit the grave, and found that the report of the warriors was true.
Their demeanor changed instantly. They loaded Wormley with praises
and promises, and could not find language severe enough for their
denunciation of Dove-eye and her confederates. The warriors were sent
out to hunt for the trail of the fugitives, and they soon discovered,
at a little distance from the lodge, a place where horses had been
kept, and from which the start had evidently been made. They followed
the trail a little way, and reported that six horses had gone toward
the north.

Black Horse returned to the village in hot haste, to organize a war
party for the pursuit of the runaways; but it was night when he was
ready, and the trail could not be taken up until morning.



CHAPTER XII. “THE GOVERNOR.”


As Wormley suspected, the departure of Silverspur and his companions
had been sudden and hasty. Old Blaze, on his arrival, related the
adventure of the trader with Jose, and the negro said that he had
caught the trader spying about the vicinity of the lodge.

As it was evident that he could be there for no good purpose, that he
was bent on discovering Dove-eye’s secret and making it known to the
Indians, the party concluded that they had better set out that night,
instead of waiting until morning.

Few preparations were needed, and they set out at midnight, mounted on
four good horses, with two led animals, that were taken in charge by
Old Blaze and Jose. The night was very dark; but Dove-eye knew every
foot of the country in that vicinity, and led them down the mountain by
the nearest practicable route. When they were fairly out of the hills,
Old Blaze took the lead, and the party rode at a good rate of speed
toward the north.

They rode steadily during the night and all through the next day,
stopping only at sunrise and at noon for rest and refreshment, more for
the benefit of their horses than themselves. When night came, they were
in sight of the Black Hills, having traveled more than eighty miles,
according to the calculation of Old Blaze, and Silverspur proposed that
they should encamp for the night upon an elevation near the creek whose
course they had been following.

“Better not,” said the hunter. “The ’Rapahoes are on our trail, no
doubt, long afore this, and they will make better time than we do,
’cause they will all hev led hosses, and kin change from tired to fresh
when they want to.”

“We have such a start, it seems to me that they will hardly try to
follow us, even if they miss us.”

“Don’t ye bet too high on that, boy. Ye’re fooled ef ye think they
wouldn’t miss ye, and that right soon. I tell ye, that tradin’ chap
is mad, and he’s bound to make mischief. He’s a coward, no doubt; but
I reckon the mad in him is bigger’n the coward, by this time. Ye did
a wrong thing when ye told the Injuns to turn him loose, and I did a
wrong thing when I didn’t shoot him down arter drawin’ a bead onto him.”

“We may have made a mistake. If we did, it was on the side of mercy,
and that is the best side.”

“Yaas. I don’t know nothin’ about marcy when I butt up agin’ Injuns and
snakes; but it’s a pity that that snake wasn’t killed. The red-skins
will be madder than any hornets when they find out the truth of the
matter, and the start we’ve got won’t amount to much. I reckon we’d
better keep on travelin’.”

“But Dove-eye must be tired. Such a long ride without rest is enough to
exhaust any one.”

“It ain’t too much fur a warrior. I’m keen to bet that the gal has
traveled a longer stretch than this, when she was fightin’ the Crows.”

“Dove-eye is not tired,” replied the maiden, with a blush at the
allusion.

“I’m tired myself, then,” rejoined Silverspur, “and I mean to camp.”

“Just as ye please. Any thin’ ’ll suit this ole hoss. I was only
speakin’ for yer own good.”

They encamped, accordingly, on the elevation that Silverspur had
pointed out, and the night was passed in rest and tranquility. Early in
the morning they resumed their journey; but it was not long before they
came to a halt, on descrying a large body of horsemen approaching them
from the north.

“Who are those, old friend?” asked Silverspur. “They can hardly be
your Arapahoes, as they would not be likely to come upon us from that
direction.”

“Not ’Rapahoes, but Injuns fur all that,” replied the hunter.

“They are too many for us, then. Hadn’t we better turn toward the hills
and get out of their way?”

“They are friends.”

“How do you know that?”

“Your young eyes ort to be better than my old ’uns. Cain’t ye see that
thar’s white men among ’em?”

“I believe I do, since you have mentioned it.”

“Sogers, too, and those Injuns are Crows.”

The hunter was right, as was revealed by the closer approach of the
party. It was composed of some fifty warriors, finely mounted, and
arrayed in all their barbaric splendor, accompanied by twenty dragoons
of the United States service and two or three officers. They had halted
when they descried Silverspur and his friends, but had continued their
course on perceiving that there were white men in the party.

“The devil is to pay now!” exclaimed Silverspur, as he reined in his
horse, and came to a sudden stop.

“What’s the matter?” asked Old Blaze, noticing his young friend’s look
of vexation.

“There’s the governor.”

“Governor who? What governor?”

“My father--Colonel Wilder--that officer on the gray horse.”

“Thunderation! Is Colonel Wilder your father? I should think you’d be
glad to see the old gen’leman.”

“But I’m not--just now.”

“Why’s that? We needn’t be afeard of the ’Rapahoes now. Thar’s Crows
and sogers enough to take keer of us.”

“I had rather meet the Arapahoes. We might get away from them. The
governor may be too inquisitive,” concluded Silverspur, with a
significant glance at Dove-eye.

“Thar’s suthin’ in that, shore enough. Colonel Wilder don’t look like
a man who would fancy an Indian wife for his son. Do ye raaly mean to
marry the gal?”

“I hope to. It is certain that I will never marry any other.”

“That is talkin’ like a man. Wal, my boy, what will be will be, and
thar’s no use in frettin’. Hyar they are, and we’ve got to meet ’em.”

Colonel Wilder came riding forward in advance of his party accompanied
by Bad Eye, the head chief of the Crows. The colonel was an old
gentleman of fine appearance, who looked as if he had been born to
fill the position of an officer. In fact, he had been a hard fighting
and hard working soldier, who had fought and worked his way up to the
grade which he then held and well deserved. He was dressed in his full
uniform--an unusual thing with an officer on duty in the wilderness,
and his appearance produced a feeling of respectful awe even in Old
Blaze, who was not accustomed to such feelings.

He did not recognize his son until he was quite close to him, and
it was evident--although he controlled himself, and returned Fred’s
greeting very cordially--that he was surprised to see him at that place
and in such company.

“Why, Fred!” he exclaimed, “you are the last man I would have expected
to meet here. I thought that you had quit this wild life, and that you
had settled down to business in St. Louis.”

“I thought so, too, sir, for a while, and I believe I tried to settle
down; but every thing was so strange to me in the city, and I felt an
unconquerable desire to return to the free life of the plains.”

“An unconquerable desire! I must confess my ignorance of the meaning of
that phrase. I am afraid that you have grown to be a perfect savage.
Who are your friends, and where are you going?”

“This is Old Blaze, father. Don’t you know him?” replied Fred, turning
to the hunter.

“Yes. I have seen him once, and have often heard of him. But who are
the others? Is that his squaw?”

“I believe not,” evasively replied Fred. “But where are you going,
sir?” he asked, anxious to change the subject of conversation. “I
should judge from your uniform, that you were on your way to pay a
visit of ceremony.”

“You have guessed it. The Crows and the Arapahoes have been fighting
for a long time, and have made it dangerous for travelers to cross the
plains. It is my duty to try to patch up a peace between them. I have
brought some of the principal men of the Crows, and we mean to pay a
visit to the Arapahoes and have a big talk. You know the effect, in
such proceedings, of an officer’s full dress uniform.”

Silverspur and Old Blaze looked at each other. If they could not get
away from Colonel Wilder and his party, they must meet the enraged
Arapahoes, who, as they could not doubt, were hot on their trail. It
was an awkward dilemma for Fred Wilder, and it soon became still more
awkward.

One of the Crow chiefs took Colonel Wilder aside, and conversed with
him in a low tone. Dove-eye was the subject of their conversation, as
they both glanced at her frequently, and the officer looked surprised
and interested.

“Is there no mistake about this?” he asked, turning to Bad Eye. “I am
told that that girl is an Arapaho, and that she has been fighting the
Crows as a warrior.”

“It is true. She has been a warrior,” replied the chief, who was gazing
intently at Dove-eye.

“It is very strange. What is she doing, my son, in _your_ company?”

“The truth is,” desperately replied Fred, “that I am trying to save
her from the Arapahoes. They would kill her, if they should get her in
their power.”

“This is still more strange. She has unsexed herself by fighting in
their ranks, and now they wish to kill her. What has she done?”

“It is a long story, sir--so long that I have no time to tell it now.
Let us pass on. Our doing so will save her life, and will not interfere
with your mission.”

“I shall not allow it. There is more in this, Fred, than you are
willing to tell me, and I mean to get at the truth. She is a
fine-looking girl, the handsomest squaw I ever saw. In fact, she does
not look like an Indian. Have you taken her from her people against her
will?”

“No sir.”

“You have taken her, then, against _their_ will.”

“I suppose I must admit that.”

“The truth is coming out, I see. Fred Wilder, reckless scapegrace as
you are, I always believed you to be a gentleman, a man of honor. I
never supposed that you could stoop so low as to take a mean advantage
of any woman, even of a poor Indian girl.”

“Have you seen any thing to cause you to change your opinion?” proudly
replied the young man.

“I ask you again, what is this Indian girl doing in your company? You
have taken her from her people, and you are afraid that they will
pursue you and take her back. What do you want to do with her?”

“I mean to make her my wife.”

Astonishment is no word for the emotion that showed itself in Colonel
Wilder’s countenance, in his whole frame. He was stupefied; he was
thunderstruck. He fairly staggered under the blow and turned pale and
red by turns.

“Have you taken leave of your senses?” he exclaimed. “Do you mean what
you say--or have you become so entirely an Indian, that you have no
regard for the truth?”

“I never lie, sir,” coolly replied Fred. The murder was out, now, and
he had nerved himself to hear the worst.

“Do you suppose that I will consent to such a thing? Can you suppose,
for a moment, that I will consent to become the grandfather of a tribe
of half-breeds?”

Fred’s eyes twinkled; but he said nothing.

“And you, a Wilder!--my son! How can you think of so disgracing
yourself?”

“You have often told me, sir, that you wished me to marry and settle
down.”

“Did I ever wish you to marry a squaw, and to settle in a wigwam? Let
me hear nothing more of this nonsense. You will remain with me, until
we meet the Arapahoes.”

“I can not do it, sir. They will kill Dove-eye.”

“Is that her name? Dove-eye! How very romantic! Her husband, from whom
you took her, may correct her in the Indian fashion; but I will warrant
you there will be no killing done. Will you do as I request you to do?”

“I can not promise, sir.”

“I must order you, then. You will please to remember that I, within the
limits of my command, am ‘monarch of all I survey.’ Unless you agree
to obey me, I will order my dragoons to arrest you and keep you under
restraint.”

“The United States service may lose a dragoon or two, before that is
done.”

“Indeed! We will see, sir.”

Fred Wilder looked rebellious, and the dispute might have terminated
disastrously to somebody, if it had not been interrupted by some
strange conduct on the part of the Crow chief and Dove-eye.



CHAPTER XIII. KATE ROBINETTE.


It was Bad Eye, the old head chief of the Crows, who first interrupted
the belligerent conversation between Silverspur and his father.

It should be remarked here, that the interview took place in the edge
of a belt of timber, near a creek, and that nearly all had dismounted,
some tethering their horses, and others allowing them to graze at will.
Among those who had dismounted were the Indian girl and Bad Eye.

The chief had been gazing a long time at Dove-eye, with an expression
of interest that he did not attempt to conceal, and she, without
meeting his fixed gaze, had glanced at him, now and then, wonderingly
and strangely. He had drawn nearer to her, and his interest increased
the longer and the closer he looked at her. At last he spoke, uttering
but one word:

“Kate!”

The girl started and turned around quickly. The chief’s arms were
extended, and, with a wild cry, she rushed into them.

It was this that interrupted the conversation of Fred and his father,
and brought a new element into the scene.

“How is this?” exclaimed Colonel Wilder, turning around, with his eyes
open wide. “What is the matter with the chief? You seem to have a rival
here, Fred, or something else.”

The young man, who was as much at a loss as his father was, discreetly
said nothing.

The chief, who was holding Dove-eye in a close embrace, released her,
but held her hand. The Crow warriors were stolidly silent, because
it was their custom to betray no emotion. The dragoons were silent,
because they had not been ordered to speak, and they sat quietly on
their horses, wondering what it all meant. Fred Wilder was silent,
because he believed that he had better not speak, and that any turn
of affairs could not be for the worse. Old Blaze was silent, because
he implicitly believed in Silverspur’s ability to talk himself out of
any scrape. Jose was silent, because he understood nothing of what
was going on. Bad Eye and the Indian girl were silent, because their
emotion had not yet found vent in words.

Colonel Wilder, in fact, was the only noisy man in the party. His
anxiety concerning his son, and his curiosity to learn the meaning of
this last demonstration, impelled him to ask the chief a multitude of
questions, which the latter seemed to be in no hurry to answer.

“Do you remember Paul Robinette?” asked Bad Eye, at last, and speaking
in very good English.

“The fur-trader? Yes; I knew him well.”

“You may remember that he was killed and scalped, on the plains, by the
Blackfeet, who carried off his daughter.”

“Yes; but you don’t mean to say that this girl is Flora Robinette? She
was found, and is married to Captain Benning--though I don’t know why
they call him captain. He has a trading-post on the other side of the
mountains, and she is living there with him.”

“Precisely so. After Silverspur rescued Flora Robinette from the
Blackfeet--”

“Who is Silverspur?” interrupted the colonel.

“Your son--Fred Wilder.”

“Savage in name, as well as in nature. Go on.”

“After he rescued her from the Blackfeet, she was again captured by
the Arapahoes. In seeking her among them, he was badly hurt, and his
life was saved by this girl. But I am making a long story of it. Flora
Robinette had a sister.”

“That is news to me. You seem to be coming to the point.”

“The truth is I have commenced at the wrong end of my story, and must
begin again. Did you ever see Paul Robinette’s brother?”

“I saw him once, many years ago. He disappeared mysteriously.”

“I am he. I had good cause, as I believe, to forsake my brother; but I
will not bring up old grudges now. To be revenged upon him, I took with
me his child, a daughter, Flora’s elder sister. She lived with me among
the Crows, several years; but one day she was missing, and I could
find no trace of her from that day to this. I have found her to-day. I
called her by the old familiar name. She remembered it, and she knew
me, as I had recognized her.”

“Very romantic! If I was an author, I would write a tale.”

“I was going to say, when I commenced my story at the wrong end, that
when Flora was finally safe, I informed her of my relationship, in the
presence of your son and Captain Benning, and told her that she had had
a sister; but I did not then expect that I would ever see Kate.”

“Very good. And you are chief of the Crows, and she will be a great
lady in the tribe, no doubt. I am very glad you have found her, and
hope you will keep her. We may as well camp here and get something to
eat. Lieutenant Rawlings, dismount your men, and form a corral. I hope,
Fred, that you will now remain with us. If the Arapahoes come, Bad Eye
will not be likely to give up his niece to them, and the Crow warriors
will take an interest in her, I am sure.”

As Colonel Wilder had so summarily dismissed the subject, no one
attempted to revive it, and all busied themselves in preparations for
encamping. Hardly were these completed, when some Crows, who had been
looking for game in the vicinity, announced that they had discovered a
large herd of buffalo, on the plain at a little distance from the camp.
All were excited by this intelligence, especially Colonel Wilder.

“This is glorious!” he exclaimed. “Now we will have a grand surround!”

The rest of the party, both white and red, were as eager for the hunt
as was Colonel Wilder, and a grand surround was determined upon.

Leaving a sufficient number of dragoons to guard the camp, Bad Eye led
the rest of the party to the buffalo ground. The prospect of a surround
was so exciting, that every other topic was laid aside, and all pressed
forward eagerly to join the chase.

Under the direction of the Crow chief, his warriors taking the lead,
the herd was gradually surrounded, the hunters keeping carefully out of
sight of the game, until the buffalo were inclosed in a great circle,
more than a mile in circumference. Then, at a signal passed from one
to another around the circle, all began to move toward the center,
slowly closing in upon their expected victims. When they were perceived
by the buffalo, the excitement of the sport commenced, and increased
rapidly from that moment. Seeing their natural enemies on one side,
the frightened animals went at a gallop to the other, where they were
driven back by the sight of more men. Then they rushed frantically from
one part of the plain to another, only to be met on every side by a
steady wall of their foes, who had drawn so close together that they
presented the appearance of a line of battle.

As a last resort the herd collected in the center of the circle, and
seemed to be searching for a weak point, at which they could break
through the line that surrounded them. If such was their intention,
they were too late in carrying it into execution; for their enemies, at
a given signal, dashed down upon them in a mass.

Right into the midst of the herd went the red and white riders, each
singling out his victim, and endeavoring to keep at his side until a
suitable opportunity should present itself to deliver a death-shot.
The maddened buffalo started off at a tearing gallop, and the scene
that followed possessed sufficient danger and excitement to charm the
wildest and most reckless hunter. Nothing could be seen, for some time,
but the immense mass of animals, surging forward and heaving like the
waves of the ocean, and nothing could be heard but the bellowings of
rage or pain, and the shouts and shots of their slaughterers.

In such a _mélee_ the men inevitably became separated from each other,
and each for himself was a law of necessity. If a man sought to keep
on the outskirts of the herd, he might find himself within it the next
moment, and he might be carried with it until some fortunate chance
should give him an opening to escape. If he was a greenhorn, or a poor
horseman, or if any accident should befall himself or his horse, he
might be thrown down in the midst of the frightened herd, and perhaps
trampled to death. The sport was as dangerous as it was exciting; but
none held off from it on account of the danger.

Colonel Wilder, who was an ardent sportsman, and who, notwithstanding
his years, believed himself to be equal to the best, showed a skill
and prowess that were surpassed by none on the ground. Dashing at once
into “the thick” of the herd, he selected a fine cow, and, watching his
opportunity, delivered a death-shot that dropped her “in her tracks.”
He then ranged up alongside of a large bull; but his horse swerved as
he fired, and the animal was only wounded. The bull turned and charged
furiously, the colonel’s horse snorted and reared, the saddle-girth
burst, and he fell to the ground, while the horse galloped frantically
away with the herd.

It was a perilous situation, and Colonel Wilder fully appreciated his
danger. The herd had gone by, and there was no fear that he would be
trampled to death; but the wounded bull had lowered his head for a
charge, to which no effectual resistance could be opposed, and it was
useless to attempt to escape.

As the buffalo charged, the colonel struck at him with the butt of his
rifle; but the weapon broke over his shaggy frontlet, with no more
effect than the breaking of a straw would have had. The bull struck the
barrel, however, between his horns, and Colonel Wilder was thus saved
from serious injury, although he was knocked down and badly bruised.

As the bull lowered his head for a charge that would finish his
prostrate antagonist, Colonel Wilder gave himself up for lost. He
closed his eyes, and mentally ejaculated a prayer for help.

Help came, as timely as it was unexpected. There was a shot, and the
bull never reached his foe. The bullet had struck him just behind the
fore-shoulder, and had penetrated his heart.

The colonel looked up, and his eyes were fastened on the dying
struggles of the buffalo. The immense beast, with blood streaming from
his mouth and nostrils, with his tongue protruding, and with the glaze
of death already over his bloodshot eyes, seemed determined to “stand
his ground” to the last. As his huge body swayed from side to side,
and he found himself unable to move a pace from where he stood, he
planted his feet further apart, and stamped impatiently, as if angry
at the growing weakness which it was impossible to shake off. But all
his efforts were in vain. Death was too strong to be resisted by his
brute force and tenacious will. The purple blood gushed in a torrent
from his mouth, the huge carcass swayed more heavily from side to side,
the failing limbs shook in a final effort to support the weight of the
body, the whole frame was seized with a convulsive quiver, and at last,
with a choking gasp, the animal fell over, dead, silent, motionless and
stiff.

Colonel Wilder gave a sigh of relief when the struggle was over, and
looked around for his preserver. Dove-eye was standing near him,
with a rifle in her hand, watching the death of the buffalo with
great composure. As she was about to walk away, the colonel rose and
addressed her:

“I am much obliged to you, sir. You have saved my life. Ah! is it you,
young woman? Excuse me; my eyes are a little dim. Did you really fire
that shot?”

Dove-eye smiled and nodded.

“You must be an excellent marksman--woman, I mean. The variation of an
inch would have left strength enough in that animal to kill me.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Not at all. I am bruised and scratched a little, perhaps; but that is
of no consequence.”

The position of Colonel Wilder was a little embarrassing. This girl,
whom he had treated so lightly and contemptuously, had saved his life,
and he, man of the world as he was, did not know what to say to her.
Fortunately his son rode up at that moment, and, in response to his
inquiries, the colonel related the adventure.

“Yes, it was very well done,” he said, as he noticed the admiring and
affectionate glance that Fred bent upon Dove-eye. “She is accustomed to
that sort of thing, no doubt; but that does not lessen my obligation.
I have some presents that I brought for the Arapahoes, and I will give
her something.”

Fred blazed up, and would probably have made a sharp reply, if he had
not been interrupted by the Crow chief, who came with the information
that there were some strange Indians within sight of the camp.

A horse was procured for Colonel Wilder, and another for Dove-eye,
and all set out toward the camp, except those of the Indians who were
engaged in collecting the meat, and they soon followed.

“Father,” said Fred, as they rode together, “you ought not to speak of
offering presents to Kate Robinette. My wife, that is to be, does not
care for beads and red cloth.”

“Kate Robinette? Ah! I had forgotten that story. Do you really believe
it? Well, it is no matter. She is a savage, and always will be.”

“She is not a savage. If she were, I am sure that she will not always
be.”



CHAPTER XIV. DIFFICULT NEGOTIATIONS.


The Indians who had been seen from the camp were Arapahoes, in
pursuit of Dove-eye and the companions of her flight. Their chief
was well enough acquainted with the reputation of both Old Blaze and
Silverspur to know that they would not easily be caught, and he had
determined to take enough men to follow them, if necessary, into the
heart of the Crow nation. The pursuers, therefore, were a war-party,
numbering nearly two hundred of the best braves of the Arapahoes, a
truly formidable array to the Crows and their white friends, if their
intentions should prove to be hostile.

Their inclinations were by no means peaceable. They halted on
perceiving the Crows, and sent forward scouts to ascertain who and how
many they were. When the scouts returned with the report that it was
a band of Crows, accompanied by a small body of soldiers, they made
preparations to attack, supposing that the Crows and their white allies
were coming south to punish the Arapahoes for their last raid into the
Crow country. They were a little fearful of coming into collision with
Uncle Sam; but there was such a fine opportunity for obtaining scalps
and plunder, that almost any excuse would serve them.

They were anticipated, however, by Colonel Wilder, who sent forward
Lieutenant Rawlings and one of his men, with a flag of truce, to
explain the objects of the expedition.

The messengers halted within a short distance of the Arapahoes, and
made signs of amity, which were responded to by Black Horse, who rode
out to meet them, accompanied by several warriors. The lieutenant
informed them, in the bombastic style supposed to be necessary in
dealing with Indians, that their great father in Washington had sent
one of his war-chiefs for the purpose of persuading them to make peace
with the Crows. The Crows, he said, were anxious for peace, and their
head chief had come, accompanied by a number of his wisest warriors,
to make peace with the Arapahoes. He concluded by inviting Black Horse
to visit the camp of the white chief, who had brought a great many
presents for his people.

The Arapaho chief replied evasively. He feared that there was some
hidden motive under this invitation, and he wished to find out what
it was before giving a positive answer. Besides, he was in pursuit of
some fugitives, whom he was very anxious to overtake, and he did not
wish to be delayed unless he was sure of gaining. He was anxious to
make peace with the Crows, he said; but he was then traveling with a
particular object, which he ought to accomplish before attending to any
other business. He would like to know whether the lieutenant had seen
two white men riding toward the Crow country, accompanied by an Indian
girl and a negro.

Lieutenant Rawlings replied that he had seen them, and that they were
even then in the camp of the white men and the Crows.

Black Horse was rejoiced at receiving this intelligence, though he
maintained that stolid gravity of demeanor which permitted no trace
of emotion to be seen. He thought that he perceived an opportunity
to capture the fugitives, as well as to destroy the party of Crows
and white men, and reap a rich harvest of scalps and plunder. He had
warriors enough to defeat them; but he was not willing to risk their
lives in a fair fight, as long as there was a chance to accomplish his
object by stratagem. He commenced to negotiate, therefore, with a view
to future treachery.

He was afraid, he said, both of the white men and the Crows. The white
men had fought with the Crows against the Arapahoes, and he had reason
to believe that they were his enemies. For himself, he was a simple and
straightforward man, who was incapable of any treachery; but the Crows
were known to be tricky, and he feared that the white men were not any
more honest than they ought to be. His duty to his people compelled him
to be on his guard against treachery, and it would be nothing more than
fair, he thought, that he should be accompanied, on his visit to the
white chiefs camp, by as many warriors as he would find there.

Lieutenant Rawlings contended against this proposition to the best
of his ability, and protested the sincerity and peaceable intentions
of the white men and the Crows; but Black Horse argued the point so
mildly, rationally and plausibly, that the lieutenant was finally
obliged to agree to his conditions. Having learned from him the numbers
of the Crow warriors and white soldiers, Black Horse dismissed him,
promising to visit the camp within an hour.

When the lieutenant returned and reported the result of his mission, he
was blamed by his commander for the concessions that he had made. There
was, also, a general feeling of distrust and uneasiness in the camp
concerning the expected visit. Old Blaze did not hesitate to declare
that treachery was intended by the Arapahoes, and that they ought
not to be allowed to enter the camp. The Crow chief shook his head
solemnly, and directed his warriors to put their weapons in good order.
Silverspur was also gloomy, and made such preparations as he could,
to meet the worst that might happen. Colonel Wilder declared that, as
the Arapahoes had been invited to come in equal numbers, they must be
allowed to do so. He was there for the purpose of making peace, and
must not be frightened from his object by suspicion or possible danger.
At the same time, he would be on his guard, and would employ all the
means in his power to avert a collision and prevent treachery.

Within the hour the Arapahoes came in sight, approaching the camp.
Their numbers and appearance, when they were near enough to be
carefully observed, were not calculated to disarm suspicion. The Crows
and whites did not number more than seventy-five fighting men; while
the Black Horse had brought with him at least a hundred of his best
warriors, all completely armed and in fighting trim. They were allowed
to enter the camp without question, as preparations had been made to
give them a warm reception in case of treachery.

“My red brother has brought a great many of his young men,” suggested
Colonel Wilder, when the chiefs had seated themselves on the ground.
“The Crows and their white brothers have not so many warriors.”

“The young white chief said that there were so many here;” but
Lieutenant Rawlings protested that he had made no such statement.

“Black Horse does not pretend to be good at counting,” superciliously
replied the Arapaho. “A few warriors more or less are of no
consequence. Why should the white chief care? If he does not wish to
harm the Arapahoes, he need not ask to have as many warriors as they
have, and he knows that they have no wish to harm his people.”

Colonel Wilder let the subject drop, not deeming it of sufficient
importance to allow it to disturb the “talk,” and negotiations for
peace were opened. But there was a difficulty at the outset.

In the group of Crows and white men were Old Blaze and Silverspur,
and among the Arapahoes was the trader, Silas Wormley. Old Blaze was
recognized by Black Horse, who had seen him when a prisoner in the
Arapaho village, as well as on previous occasions. He had no doubt
that the companion of the hunter was Silverspur, whom he knew by
reputation. Silas Wormley, since his arrival, had been sharp-sighted
enough to catch a glimpse of Dove-eye and Jose, whose presence he had
duly reported to the chief. Assured that the fugitives were within his
reach, Black Horse devoted his first efforts to gaining possession of
them. Without going into particulars, he stated that they had stolen
into the Arapaho country, where they had done a great deal of damage,
and that he was in pursuit of them. He proposed, before proceeding
to talk of peace, that these offenders should be delivered up to the
Arapahoes, to be dealt with as they should see fit.

“Is this one of the men?” asked Colonel Wilder, pointing to Silverspur.

The chief nodded assent.

“He is my son.”

“Are not all the white people children of the white chief?”
sarcastically inquired Black Horse.

“His mother was my wife. You can not expect me to give up my son to be
killed, when he has committed no crime deserving of death.”

“Give us the other man, then--give us the Burnt Face,” said Black
Horse, who was willing to temporize, in order to gain time to carry out
a little stratagem that he had planned.

“What has he done?”

The chief could allege nothing against Old Blaze, except that he aided
Silverspur in carrying off an Arapaho girl.

“I will tell you what he has done,” replied the colonel. “You captured
him when he was hunting near your village, doing you no harm, and you
released him of your own accord. You had no right to capture him, and
you have no right now to reclaim him.”

“At least we can claim the girl,” said the chief, after casting an
anxious glance at the plain behind him. “Will you give her to us?”

“What claim have you upon her? She is not an Arapaho.”

“Not an Arapaho!” The chief started, astonished at this unexpected
rebuff. “Does the white chief know what he is saying? Why does he say
that she is not an Arapaho?”

“She is a Crow. She was stolen from the Crows many years ago. She is
the adopted child of this chief”--pointing to Bad Eye. “She was his
brother’s daughter.”

The countenance of Black Horse fell. He knew that it would be useless
to deny this fact.

“I begin to be afraid,” he said, “that you will not give us the horses
that were stolen from us by these people.”

“You shall have your horses, though I do not believe that they were
stolen. Now let us talk of other matters. I have come to try to make
peace between the Arapahoes and the Crows, and have brought presents
for you.”

Suspicious circumstances were transpiring in the mean time, indicating
the nature of the little stratagem that had been planned by the Arapaho
chief, and explaining the reason for his backward glances across the
plain.

The Arapaho warriors, instead of scattering about the camp, to gratify
their curiosity, and to pick up such loose available articles as they
could lay their hands on, as was the custom of Indians on the plains
at friendly talks, had kept in a body, had maintained a stolid gravity
of demeanor, and had watched every movement of their chief and of all
about the camp.

It soon became evident, also, that their numbers were increasing. On
a neighboring elevation, and in the timber that bordered the creek
adjoining the camp, were bodies of Arapahoes, from which small squads
detached themselves now and then, and sauntered leisurely toward the
camp, where they mingled with those who were already there.

These circumstances did not escape the keen eyes of the Arapaho chief,
who became bolder and more impudent as he noticed the arrival of his
reinforcements and the near approach of the rest of his band.

“The Arapahoes are not fools,” he said, in reply to Colonel Wilder.
“They make war or peace when they please, without asking the advice or
assistance of the white men.”

Colonel Wilder colored with indignation. He began to perceive that this
Indian meant treachery and mischief, and he was not a man who could
brook an insult from a savage.

“If my red brother does not wish to make peace,” he said, “he can go as
he came. The Arapaho has not done as he promised to do. He said that he
would bring no more warriors than were here; but he has brought many
more, and his young men are even now coming into the camp. I can not
allow this.”

“The white men tell us that we have a great deal of curiosity,” replied
Black Horse. “I suppose they speak the truth. My young men always wish
to see and hear every thing.”

“They must be sent back. As many warriors as we have may remain; but
the rest of the band must remove a mile from our camp.”

Black Horse was silent.

“Let the Arapaho answer. Is he willing to make peace, or does he still
wish for war?”

“Is the white chief a coward?” contemptuously replied Black Horse. “Is
he afraid of two or three poor Indians? Let him give us our presents,
and then we will talk about peace.”

Colonel Wilder made no response to this audacious demand.

“He must give us our presents,” continued Black Horse, “and he must
give up our prisoners, who have taken refuge in his camp.”

“When peace is made, the presents will be distributed, and not before.
There are no prisoners here who belong to the Arapahoes. If the chief
does not wish to make peace, the way is open, and he can go as he came.”

“We must have our presents and our prisoners.”

A child could have seen that a collision was inevitable. Black Horse,
with his tomahawk resting on his knee, and his rifle at his side,
was haughty and overbearing, and glanced around at his warriors, as
if conscious of his superior strength. The warriors, for their part,
were collected in a firm phalanx. Their outward demeanor was calm
and apparently indifferent, but their eyes, burning with revenge and
thirst for blood and spoil, were fastened on their chief, as if waiting
for the signal to commence the slaughter. Their teeth were clinched
tightly, their muscles were strained as if for a spring, and their left
hand held their rifles, while the right grasped the tomahawk or the
battle-ax.

On the other side was the same calmness of demeanor, which gave little
token of the excitement that was boiling within. The Crow warriors were
ready and anxious to be let loose at their antagonists, notwithstanding
the disparity in numbers, and behind their commander were drawn up the
twenty dragoons, standing at a rest, with their carbines ready for
instant action. Bad Eye, whose glance took in every thing that passed,
had his weapons within reach, and Colonel Wilder kept his hand within
his bosom, where it played nervously with the butt of a pistol.

Silverspur, who smelt blood in the air, had formed a plan of his
own, which he meant to carry into effect upon the first outbreak of
treachery. He had gradually and almost imperceptibly edged his way
toward the Arapaho chief, until he was almost near enough to touch
him. As he watched him closely, he perceived that there was a whistle
in the end of the handle of his tomahawk, and he had no doubt that
that whistle would give the signal for the onset, if any should be
given. While appearing to have all his attention concentrated upon the
speakers, he carefully kept one eye upon Black Horse and his tomahawk.

“What you ask is entirely out of the question,” said Colonel Wilder, in
reply to the last demand of the Arapaho chief. “If you have no better
terms to offer, you may go, and take your warriors with you.”

“The Arapahoes come as they please, and go as they please. They have
not learned to obey the commands of the white men.”

“If you will not have peace, you shall have war to your heart’s
content.”

“Then let it be war!” exclaimed the chief, as he quickly raised his
whistle to his lips.

But it did not sound. Before it reached his lips, Silverspur seized
him, and, exerting all his strength, jerked him from among his
warriors, into the ranks of the opposite side. Old Blaze, who had
divined the intentions of his friend, caught the chief by the arms, and
held him tightly; while Silverspur, grasping him by the scalp-lock,
flashed his keen hunting-knife before his throat.

“Hold!” exclaimed the young man, as the Arapahoes were handling their
weapons, uncertain whether to commence the attack. “If a shot is fired,
or if a man moves from his place, your chief dies that instant!”

The position of the Arapahoes was by no means such as Black Horse had
expected it to be. Their chief was in the power of their adversaries,
liable to be killed at the first hostile movement they should make,
and he had been seized before he was able to give them the signal for
the onset. Before them was the line of dragoons, with carbines leveled
and cocked, and all around them were clustered the Crow warriors, with
rifles to the shoulder and arrows on the string. The Arapahoes saw that
they had lost the advantage of surprise and the first attack, and were
willing to make terms.

Colonel Wilder took the word where his son had left off.

“Leave the camp!” he said. “Draw off, every man of you, a mile from
the camp, and take with you the warriors on the hill and in the timber
yonder, and your chief will be safe. If you go peaceably, and do as
I tell you, the chief will be released as soon as you reach your own
camp. If you do not”--pointing at the leveled guns behind him--“you see
that we have the advantage of you.”

The Arapahoes hesitated a few moments, consulted a little with each
other, and then sullenly returned in a body to their own camp.

Colonel Wilder read Black Horse a severe lecture upon his treacherous
conduct, to which the Arapaho listened in silence, and released him
when a scout reported that his warriors had all reached their former
location.



CHAPTER XV. KNIFE TO KNIFE.


Although the whites and the Crows had been saved from imminent peril,
and probably from destruction, by Silverspur’s prompt and decisive
action, they were by no means safe from their enraged adversaries. It
was to be supposed that Black Horse, indignant at the discovery and
defeat of his treacherous scheme, would not be willing to abandon his
enterprise without an effort. As the Arapahoes largely outnumbered
their opponents, and were stimulated by the desire for plunder as well
as revenge, it was reasonable to expect an attack upon them.

Colonel Wilder and Bad Eye, therefore, hastened to make preparations to
repel their assailants. The wagons were so placed as to form a corral
within which the horses were secured, and around this all were set at
work to dig and throw up a breastwork. As the attack might be expected
at any moment, they worked with a will, and the camp was soon placed in
a fair condition for defense.

It was useless to think of retreating, as they were encumbered with
wagons. The Arapahoes could easily overtake them, and might destroy
them on the march.

Although the afternoon wore away without an attack, scouts reported
that the Arapahoes were still in sight, and Colonel Wilder ordered the
work of fortification to continue, until he believed the camp to be
strong enough to resist an assault.

“The governor has rushed us pretty hard,” said Silverspur, when the
work was pronounced finished, and he threw himself on the ground to
rest. “That is always the way with these military men. They want to
build a fort at every step they take.”

“He’s right about it this time, sartin,” replied Old Blaze. “The
’Rapahoes are more’n two to our one, and I don’t know any red-skins
that I hadn’t ruther fight. Did ye notice those warriors that came with
Black Horse?”

“Yes. They were a fine-looking set of men.”

“No finer anywhere. Every man of ’em nigh onto six feet high, straight
as a pine, soople as a painter, and jest built up a-purpose fur
fightin’.”

“They are, certainly, the best-formed and the most athletic Indians I
have seen on the plains.”

“Kerlectic! I don’t adzackly swaller that word; but, if thar’s any
kerlectic red-skins livin’, it’s them. Why, boy, the Crows are puny
alongside of them, and the crook-legged Comanches ain’t worth shucks
off thar hosses. How clean they all war! and how keerfully they war
painted and ’iled!”

“They would be dangerous fellows in a close fight. I should dislike to
meet one of them in a hand-to-hand tussle.”

“They’re powerful tough customers in a skrimmage, sartin. We would all
have been chawed up afore this, ef thar game hadn’t been bust into jest
as it was. Thar’ll be a right sharp tussle, I’ve a notion, afore we’ve
done with ’em.”

“I don’t suppose that they mean to give up what they came for.”

“Not a bit of it. They came arter Dove-eye, and they came arter you
and me. They hev got a notion of the colonel’s plunder, too, and Crow
skelps and white skelps are what they’re allers wantin’. They mean to
hev some of those things, boy, or bust thar gizzards a-tryin’! Hullo!
What’s the matter now? Are the cusses comin’ at us?”

There had been one lack in the camp. There was enough meat and enough
ammunition; but Colonel Wilder, with the forethought of a soldier, saw
that it might be necessary to stand a siege, in which event a scarcity
of water would be a serious inconvenience. The creek was near at hand;
but they would be cut off from it in case of attack, and a supply must
be secured before the appearance of the enemy.

He sent a squad of dragoons to the creek, with a guard of Crow Indians,
to get water to fill all the vessels that were available for that
purpose. Twice they went and returned in safety; but, the third time,
while they were filling their buckets, a party of Arapahoes, who had
been lurking in the timber, rose from their ambush, and poured into
them a deadly fire. Three of the soldiers were killed outright, and one
was severely wounded. The Crows, after an ineffectual attempt to make a
stand, were driven back, with their white companions, toward the camp.
The Arapahoes pursued them at once, and, as they were incumbered with
their wounded comrade, their progress was slow and difficult.

This was the disturbance that had attracted the attention of Old Blaze.
There was a call for volunteers, to go out and bring in the party, and
there was no lack of men for the service. Silverspur and Old Blaze
headed a number of Crows and white men, who leaped over the breastwork,
and hastened to the rescue of their friends. They soon drove back
the pursuing party, but found that their work was not half done. The
Arapahoes came pouring out of the timber, and in a few minutes the
whole plain was swarming with them, closing in upon the little band,
and blocking up the path to the fort.

There was nothing for Silverspur and his party to do, but cut their
way through their enemies, and they set at work to do so, with the
courage of desperation. Facing to front and rear, with the wounded
in the center, they fought each way, gradually nearing the fort. But
the number of their enemies increased, and the Arapahoes, attacking
violently with guns, arrows, lances and war-clubs, gave them no rest,
and threatened to exterminate them.

They would be overwhelmed, unless they should receive succor from the
camp, and against this the wily chief of the Arapahoes had provided, or
thought he had provided, by sending a strong force to attack the camp
on the other side. But Colonel Wilder, relying on his intrenchments
to repel this assault, detached a party to sally out on the side next
the creek, to the assistance of his son. They attacked so vigorously,
that the Arapahoes were surprised and scattered, and Silverspur took
advantage of the few moments of breathing time that were thus given
him, to get his men within the breastwork.

Even then he accomplished his task with difficulty. The Arapahoes
quickly rallied, and turned upon their foes with renewed fury;
striving to enter the camp with them. In this they were nearly
successful, and the assault upon the other side of the camp received at
the same time a fresh impetus.

If the attack had hitherto been desperate, it was now the extreme of
desperation. Half the dragoons were killed or wounded, together with
a number of the Crows, and the Arapahoes fought with such bravery and
fury, that their antagonists, although aided by the breastwork, found
it nearly impossible to keep them out of the camp. The contest quickly
became one of hand to hand and foot to foot, and Old Blaze’s estimate
of the strength and agility of the Arapahoes was fully confirmed.
Guns and bows were soon thrown away, and even lances were discarded.
The struggle was continued with war-clubs, tomahawks and knives, and
even with teeth and nails, while the ground within and without the
breastwork became slippery with blood.

Silverspur, by the most arduous exertions, kept his assailants out
of the camp; but Colonel Wilder was less successful on his side, his
men being gradually beaten back, until the Arapahoes came pouring
in over the breastwork. The gallant old officer rallied them for a
resolute charge, and dashed into the midst of the enemy, firing his
pistols right and left, and opposing his sword to their battle-axes and
tomahawks.

The blade of his sword was soon broken against the tough handle of a
club, and, while he was thus disarmed, an athletic warrior, no less a
personage than Black Horse himself, rushed upon him, seized him by the
throat and bore him to the ground.

With tomahawk upraised, the chief was about to dash out the brains
of his foe, and the next moment would have been the last of Colonel
Wilder, had it not been for the prompt interposition of Dove-eye, who,
having picked up a battle-ax, rushed in, and served the chief as he had
expected to serve the officer. With the assistance of one of the Crows,
she dragged the Colonel out of the _mélee_, while the Arapahoes made
a rush for the body of their chief, picked it up, and carried it over
the breastwork. At the same time the Crows and white men charged so
vigorously, that the camp was soon cleared of enemies.

The yells and wailing cries that followed told the Arapahoes that their
chief had fallen, and they soon drew off, to the great relief of the
defenders of the camp. As they went, they carried with them their dead
and wounded, a proceeding which their foes were unable to prevent,
although some of them would have been willing to prevent it.

The Crows and the few remaining white men were so exhausted by the
deadly and protracted struggle that they were glad to throw themselves
on the ground and rest, even before they could attend to their wounded
and count up their losses. When these came to be considered, all was
sadness and gloom in the camp; for many had fallen, and scarcely any
had escaped wounds or scratches. No one believed that it would be
possible to withstand another assault; but it was hoped that the death
of Black Horse would prevent their enemies from attempting another.

This hope proved to be well founded; but the Arapahoes were not
willing to abandon the scalps and the plunder for which they had
fought so desperately, and which they yet hoped to gain. Relying on
their superior numbers, they surrounded the camp, guarding all the
approaches, and keeping up such a fire that the defenders could not
show their heads above the breastwork. The latter, as long as they
were not called upon to resist another assault, were contented to keep
quiet, to bind up their wounds, and to prepare some food to strengthen
their bodies.

Fred Wilder said nothing concerning Dove-eye’s achievement to his
father; but it was not long before the latter brought up the subject.

“I had never believed,” said the old officer, “that I would be
compelled to praise a woman for the possession of a quality which
is supposed to belong specially to men; but it is certain that
this--a--young woman has shown remarkable courage and presence of mind.
She has saved my life twice this day, and I believe that she saved the
lives of all of us who are still living. Those bloodthirsty Arapahoes
were pressing us very hard, and I fear that they would have captured
the camp, if it had not been for the death of their chief.”

“I hope,” replied Fred, “that she will not again be called upon to use
those qualities during this campaign, as it is too dangerous employment
for my intended wife. But there are two other qualities which I am
afraid she will be obliged to display, together with the rest of
us--patience and endurance.”

Those qualities were, indeed, greatly needed in the camp; for the night
wore away, and the next day and the next night, without any relaxation
on the part of the Arapahoes of their strict watch and ward about the
beleaguered garrison, who were obliged to keep cautiously on the alert.
It was evidently their design to accomplish by siege and starvation
the object which they had not effected by open assault. To add to the
troubles of the besieged, their supply of water began to give out,
although it was used as sparingly as possible.

On the morning of the third day it was entirely exhausted, and the
pains of thirst began to be seriously felt in the little band. They
were thinking of attempting at all hazards, to cut their way through
their foes, when the keen eyes of Old Blaze caught sight of some
objects at a distance, moving over the plain. Colonel Wilder examined
them with his telescope, and pronounced them to be a body of white men.
The American flag was hoisted, with the union down, as a signal of
distress, and the moving objects soon began to verge toward the camp.
The Arapahoes saw them coming, and, after sending scouts to ascertain
who they were, speedily and prudently decamped.

The arrivals proved to be a large force of trappers, led by Captain
Benning, who rode up to the camp in great glee, joyfully welcomed by
the rescued band.



CHAPTER XVI. CONCLUSION.


Benning offered to pursue the retreating Arapahoes; but Colonel Wilder,
who had tried their mettle, thought it would be the better course to
leave them alone for the present and his opinion prevailed.

As the trappers were on their way to Benning’s rendezvous in Green
river valley, Colonel Wilder and the Crows determined to accompany
them. Those of the wounded who were unable to walk were placed in the
wagons, and the entire cavalcade took up the line of march toward the
north.

Captain Benning was overjoyed at meeting Silverspur, who had aided him
in rescuing his wife, then Flora Robinette, from the Blackfeet and the
Arapahoes, and he was greatly pleased at discovering her sister Kate,
who had been so long lost that her existence was nearly forgotten.
The two friends beguiled the way by relating their adventures, none
of which were more strange and exciting than Silverspur’s pursuit of
Dove-eye.

Colonel Wilder rode and conversed with Dove-eye during part of the
journey, and Fred, when he saw him thus engaged, considerately kept
away from him, believing, as was consistent with his own experience,
that the girl of his choice needed only to be known to be appreciated.

The old gentleman could not help being respectful and friendly to
her who had twice saved his life, and it was evident to Fred that he
watched her with a growing interest. The more he saw her and talked
with her, the more apparent became her good qualities. In fact, he
was rapidly becoming convinced that she was not entirely savage, and
that it would be possible to reclaim and civilize her. Before the
journey was ended he came to the conclusion that it would not be at all
difficult to reclaim and civilize her.

Fred only once rallied him upon his attentions to Dove-eye, merely for
the purpose of getting an inkling of his real feelings with regard to
her.

“She saved my life,” replied the colonel. “She saved it twice, and I
have no doubt that she saved the lives of us all. It is only just that
I should be kind to her. Between you and me, she would be the right
kind of a wife for a man who expected to live in the wilderness. She
could take care of herself, and of her husband too, if necessary.”

The young gentleman made no reply to this speech; but his thought was,
“the governor is coming around.”

Old Blaze was restrained by no motives of delicacy from expressing his
opinion.

“Tell ye what, colonel,” he said; “that gal is the right grit. She
totes a true heart and a stout one. She was born to be a queen--that’s
whar it is.”

The journey was accomplished safely and pleasantly, the party being
too large to fear interruption by the Indians. When they reached the
rendezvous, Kate Robinette was made known to her sister Flora, who had
previously, during her captivity among the Arapahoes, considered and
treated her as a sister. When she learned that her Indian sister was
really her own elder sister, her joy was unbounded, and her affection
displaced itself in all manner of extravagant demonstrations.

When Colonel Wilder saw Kate Robinette laughed over and cried over by
her sister, who was undoubtedly white, and who called Bad Eye “uncle”
as naturally as if he had not been a Crow chief, he began to doubt
whether Dove-eye did not have white blood in her veins, and soon came
to the conclusion that she was all white. Thereafter he addressed her
as “Kate” and “Miss Robinette,” and was as courteous to her as if she
had been a fashionable damsel fresh from the “settlements.”

“Now that sister Kate is found,” said Flora, when everybody had got
over the novelty of the discovery, “it is time that we should devise a
plan by which I can divide father’s property with her. I have no doubt
that he would have divided it, if he had known that she was alive, and
I am sure that there is enough for both of us. Besides, she is the
eldest child, and has the best right to it.”

“There is no necessity for any division,” remarked Bad Eye. “You need
not suppose that I, a white man, and a trader by education, have lived
so many years among the Crows without making some use of the advantages
of my position. On the contrary, I have had a splendid opportunity to
amass a fortune, and have not entirely neglected it. I have trapped and
traded until I have laid by a considerable sum, part of which is in the
hands of Captain Benning, and the rest is mostly in St Louis. I intend
that Kate shall have it all, and she will find, when it is gathered
together, that she is not much behind her sister.”

It could not be that Colonel Wilder was influenced by the discovery
that Kate Robinette was an heiress. He had a great respect for wealth
and position, but was no worshiper of property. It is certain, however,
not only that his demeanor toward her entirely changed, but that he
really gave his consent to her marriage with Fred.

“That is, my son,” he proceeded to qualify, “after you have taken her
to the East and kept her at school a few years. Education will soon
polish her.”

“Do you think I could allow the ducks and turkeys of the settlements
to laugh at my wild bird?” asked Silverspur. “Do you think I could be
separated from her a few years, or a few months? She is sufficiently
polished, and no one can educate her better than her husband.”

Fred had his way, and was married to Kate Robinette, without objection
by any person. He entered into a partnership with Captain Benning as a
fur trader, in which business both were remarkably successful. Kate’s
brains and will soon made amends for the deficiencies of her education,
and, when she accompanied her husband to St. Louis, no one who was not
acquainted with her story would have supposed that the greater part of
her life had been spent among savages.

Bad Eye returned to his tribe, being resolved, as he had often
declared, to live and die a Crow.

A short time after the foregoing events, Colonel Wilder led a
detachment of troops and a band of Crow warriors against the Arapahoes,
who were badly defeated and compelled to sue for peace.

Old Blaze continued in the employ of his friend Silverspur, when his
vagrant propensities did not compel him to seek other occupation, and
never ceased to regret that he had not shot “that tradin’ chap.”

THE END.

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Transcriber’s Notes:

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.

A prequel to this story appears in Edward Willett, _The Gray Scalp;
or, the Blackfoot Brave_, Beadle’s Dime Novels, No. 205, Beadle and
Company, New York, 1870, which is posted on Doctrine Publishing Corporation (#56175).

The title in the back cover entry for American Tales, Second Series,
No. 13, is incorrect and should be _The Mysterious Spy_.

The following change was made:

p. 85: “for” inserted (reason for his)

back cover: “of” inserted (Prisoner of La Vintresse)





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